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[All rights r curved ] 

T . 


rniNTcn by william clowes and sons, limited, 



Although, according to the best authorities, gipsies 
have lived in England nearly four hundred years, yet 
comparatively little is known either of their origin, 
character, or general life. Added to this fact, the 
Author begs to state that his reasons for submitting 
the following pages to the public are : First f That 
he has had many opportunities of gaining a know- 
ledge of the gipsies by frequent visits to them in 
their tents and vans, and by conversations with them 
respecting their own history and life. The Second 
reason is that some writers have, in their descriptions 
of this people, leaned too much to the dark side of 
their character, which, he thinks, is not fair, but 
even unjust to them. 

The Author does not profess to give either an 
elaborate treatise on the origin of the gipsies, or a 
full delineation of their strange life, but simply some 
phases of it, and to show its light as well as its dark 
side. lie believes his arguments in favour of the 
theory he entertains of their origin, his remarks on 
the persecutions to which they have been subjected, 



their moral and social characteristics, their mental 
powers and capabilities of improvement, will help to 
invest the study of them with considerable interest, 
and to convince the reader that the gipsies are 
worth the efforts of the philanthropist, of the humane 
and benevolent, to educate, to civilize, and to make 
them good citizens, as well as members of the 
Christian Church. 





Gipsies tented in a lane — All not gipsies who lead gipsy 
lives — Curious whim of a gentleman — Physical charac- 
teristics of real gipsies — Peculiarities of costume — 
Are gipsies on the increase? — A strange practice — 
Names of gipsies in different countries — Origin of the 
word gipsy — Division into clans — Gipsy coronation at 
Yet holm — Lame Jamie, and the royal dance — Gipsies 
a distinct variety of the human species J 



Gipsy girl on Bow Common — Robert Lee and his fore- 
father** — Different theories of the origin of gipsies— 
The Jats, or Yats — A Persian monarch— The Arabs and 
the Jews — Sudras and Pariahs — Words of the Hindo- 
stanee, gipsy, and English languages— Old Lovell, the 
gipsy scissors-grinder— Choice of food — Pursuits of 
gipsies — Religion of gipsies and Sudras — Resemblance 
in personal features— The woodman's gipsy wife — The 
comparison — Staining the *' babbies "—Gipsy Boswell 
and the shepherd kings, Ac. „ „ H 15 



Why gipsies left their native country— A gipsy tradition 
— First appearance in Europe — Gipsies in France and 
Spain, and how treated — Introduction into England — 



Legal enactments — A fearful testimony — False evi- 
dence — The young gipsy and new-born child — The 
judge, and gipsy condemned to death — March of 
gipsies through England to Scotland — A letter from 
James IV., Johnno Faw, lord and erle — The Countess of 
Cassillis — Laws passed against gipsies in Scotland, &c . . 3G 



Sylvester Boswoll, a learned gipsy — His explanations of 
tho gipsy language — Smart and Crofton's gipsy vocabu- 
lary — English and gipsy words demoting human rela- 
tionship — Farts of human and animal bodies — Wearing 
apparel — Furniture, food and drink — Buildings of 
various kinds— Quadrupeds, birds, and insects — Titles 
of office and employment — Money — The works of nature 
— Tho seasons, division of time — Words used by the 
Scottish gipsies — Paragraph specimens of tho gipsy 
dialect — Popular gipsy proverbs — The Lord's Prayer 
in the gipsy dialect .. .. .. .. 54 



The most common names of tho gipsies — Tho most ancient 
gipsy families — Romantic and uncommon names of 
gipsy girls — Origin of gipsy surnames— Pride in high 
blood — Old Jowles, the Somersetshire king of tho 
gipsies — Stephens — Tho Carews — Foreign names of 
gipsies — Adoption by writers and actors of other names 
of common occurrence — The origin of many of our 
own family names .. .. .. .. .. .. 71 



The " tug of war " — Antagonistic views — " Use is second 
nature "—Old Draper the kettle-mender — Why he pre- 


ferred the hedge to the house — ** Gipsies* campaign from 
Lock's Fields'* — A living dining table — u You are a 
wild set*' — Gipsy love of freedom and fresh air — An 
unequal match — An interesting but mysterious story 
— A little suspicious — The farmer and some gipsies in 
Sussex — The stolen sheep — Strange conduct of a gipsy 
man at a funeral — An encounter between a policeman 
and gipsy Riley— Two cowards and the gipsies 85 



Tents an ancient order of architecture — An aristrocratio 
tout and how it was furnished — A chat in a gipsy van 
— Some cartes-de-visite — How the gipsies cook their 
food — Visit to the town residence of an old gipsy ; and 
how we fared — The king of tho Yctholm gipsies— The 
dwellings of his subjects — The domestic habits and 
industry of some gipsy women — Gipsy love of music — 
Dancing and other amusements — Quarrels among the 
gipsies— Jealousy— Gipsies and tho game laws — 
Poaching — A gipsy chief and his men in council — A 
disputed point— A wicked act — A gipsy *h bill of tare — 
A gipsy dinner party — Employment of gipsies .. 109 



Gipsy courtship— Gipsy man and his pint measure 
full of sovereigns — A wedding present — Marriago of 
"William Lee and Ada Bob we 11 — Gipsy wedding in a 
sand-pit — Fiddling, dancing, carousing — The author 
one of the spectators — A lady's misplaced affection — 
A marvellous and strange story — A gipsy chair-mender 
— The fanner's widow and gipsy Smith— The young 
mechanic and gipsy girl — Gipsy law about marriage 
— Births of gipsy children — The midwife, and gipsy 
child born one midnight under a hedge — Baptisms 
of gipsy children— C— — a Lock and the rector — An 
interesting interview 133 






Theory of a German philosopher — A human skeleton dis- 
covered in a field — Longevity of gipsies — Funeral of 
Lepronia Lee — A remarkable coincidence — Grave of 
a gipsy scissors- grinder— Curious account of a gipsy 
funeral — Death of a patriarchal gipsy — A strange 
burial — Death *nd funeral of a gipsy queen — A gipsy 
king — Strange notions of the gipsies about the dead 
— Grief of gipsy mothers when a child dies — The tomb 
of a gipsy king — The king of the Orkney gipsies — 
Burial of the gipsy queen — An affecting scene — Death 
and funeral of Matilda Stanley — Under the yew tree 
— Burying valuable property .. ..161 



Points in which Jews and gipsies agree and differ — Gipsy 
speculators — Money-makers, and misers — Wandsworth 
gipsies — A cup of gold tea — An eccentric gipsy woman 
— Gipsy vanity — Arnold Smith, a gipsy horse-dealer— 
Silver coin shanked for buttons — Gipsy ball in a field 
— Gay and costly dresses and jewellery, &o. — An 
intruder threatened with a gipsy castigation — Two 
gipsy girls and the jeweller — Gipsy notions of pawn- 
shops — Borrowed money — Law of honour, and how 
carried out .. .. .. .. 183 



Causes of neglect of mental culture among the gipsies — 
A wandering life unfavourable — Requirements of the 
human intellect — Gipsy children great talkers — 
Mental capacities of gipsies — A queer story of Sandie 
Brown and the bullock's tail — The farmer and gipsy 
horse-dealer— A young gipsy cripple — A school of 



gipsy children— Sylvester Bos well and his library — A 
novel system of education— John Steggall, the Suffolk 
gipsy — Gipsies observant of passing events — What a 
gipsy woman once said to the Author about the educa- 
tion of their children .. 200 



Clipping coin — Robbing hen-roosts — Highway robbers 
and house-breakers— Knack of vamping up old horses 
— Kidnapping — Gipsies not forgers— Nor political 
agitators— Gipsy hospitality to strangers — The be- 
nighted traveller — A distant glimmer — Night in a gipsy 
tent — How it was spent — Departure — Search for a 
stray bullock, and how it ended — A gipsy with a 
generous heart — The gipsy and the drowned boy, an 
affecting incident not to be forgotten „ 225 



Power of kindness— An interesting story of a lady and 
a gipsy family in Buckinghamshire — The roasted 
hedgehog, wild flowers, and the bright half-crown 
— Gipsy spirit of revenge — The man who would join 
the gipsies — His initiation — His escape — The gipsies 
on his track, and the result which followed — Gipsy 
love and jealousy — Edward Bulwcr, afterwards Lord 
Lytton, fascinated by a gipsy girl — Several days at tlie 
tent — Tho young gipsy men threaten him — His forced 
departure from the gipsies — A daring act, which 
might have cost a life 240 

woRxnca akd pet animals of gipsies. 

ionship — Alleged cruelty by the gipsies — Black- 
eath, and Hampstead Hc:it!i IV>isun<>ns drugs and 



powders — Acts of which gipsies are not guilty — What 
Augustus Sala says — A Somers Town gipsy scissors- 
grinder and his donkey " Jack " — Old " Jet " and her 
sand bank stable — The dogs of gipsies — A gipsy girl 
and her cat — Gipsies and their feathered companions 
— A bantam cock with gold rings .. .. 265 



Religious notions of gipsies — Have no books, records, or 
lexicons — Notion of the Wallachians — Mother Stanley's 
idea of God and His mercy — Transmigration — The 
gipsy who didn't like ceremony — Gipsies at a cathedral 
service, and what they thought of it — The old gipsy 
whose clothes were not a good fit — A gipsy lectures 
the Author — The gipsy chief and his child — Super- 
stitions and dreams of the gipsies — " The evil eye," &o. 280 



Chiromancy — Astrology — Disappointed lovors — Plans 
adopted by gipsies in fortune-telling — The two female 
servants and the frying-pan — Gipsy success in fortune- 
telling — The original Peggy — A credulous baker — 
Bori Hokani, or the "great trick" — An old bachelor 
and gipsy girl — A deep-laid scheme — The Quaker and 
the gipsy — Tho Lisson Grove fortune-teller — Telling 
the fortune of a fortune-teller — A fortune told in 
Greenwich Park to a very gullible young man — The 
secret of gipsy success in fortune-tolling — Gipsies good 
readers of human character — Rivals in fortune-telling 
— The surgeon's widow — u Zendovesta " — The old 
woman who lived in the mews — Copy of a remarkable 
handbill about casting nativities, <fcc 296 






The condition of our gipsy claimants — Claims of the 
gipsies on philanthropic, moral, and Christian offorts, 
and on what they are founded — A problem difficult of 
solution — Harsh measures of no avail — Travelling 
habitations of gipsies — Bates and taxes — Compulsory 
education of gipsies— A few hints to School Board 
directors and agents — Gipsies won by kindness — Duty 
of ministers— Plan adopted by Laplanders — Committees 
of ladies and gentlemen, and what they might do- 
Twilight in gipsydom — A gipsy missionary — The Not- 
ting Dale gipsies — Thomas Hearno — A Eensal Green 
gipsy and his story — Epping Forest gipsies— Great 
changes for the better — Encouragements to efforts, &c. 321 

The King and the Dying Gipsy .. .. 345 

The Gipsies' Appeal 



Frontispiece. P * Q * 

The Tent and the Mansion 1 

"Old Lovell," Scissors-grinder .. .. 15 

Gipsy Draper, Umbrella-mender .. .. .. 36 

Sylvester Boswell's Cart and Tent 54 

Isaac Jowles, King of the Somersetshire Gipsies .. 71 

The Farmer and his Stolen Sheep .. .. 85 

Gipsy Chief and his Men in Council .. .. 109 

A Wedding Present to Gipsy Girl .. .. .. 133 

Mother Leatherhead (115 years old) .. .. 161 

A Cup of Gold Tea .. .. 183 

Sylvester Boswell, a Learned Gipsy .. 200 

A Generous-hearted Gipsy Woman, one of the Chilcotts 225 

Gipsy Boy Musician .. .. .. 246 

A Gipsy Donkey at Ease .. .. .. 265 

A Gipsy Girl at Prayer 280 

One of the Stanleys — Fortune-teller 296 

Thomas Hearne, Chair-mender 321 




Gipsies ton tod in a lane — All not gipsies who lead gipsy 
Hvc« — Curious whim of a gentleman — Physical characteris- 
tics of real gipsies — Peculiarities of costume — Are gipsies on 
the increase? — A strange practice — Names of gipsies in 
different countries — Origin of the word gipsy — Division iiitn 
clans — Gipsy coronation at Yet holm — Lame Jamio, and the 
royal dance — Gipsies a distinct variety of tho human 

41 Hast thou not noted on the hy-way side, 
Where aged saughs lean o'er the lazy tide, 
A vagrant crew, far straggled through the glado. 
With trifles "busied, or in slumber httd ; 
Their children round them lolling on tho grass, 
Or postering with their sports the patient ass? 



The wrinkled beldame there you may espy, 
And ripe young maiden with the glossy eye — 
Men in their prime— and striplings dark and dun, 
Scathed by the storm, and freckled with the sun ; 
Strange are their annals ! list and mark them well, 
For thou hast much to hear, and I to tell." 


As there is a " magic charm in mystery," it is no 
doubt on this account that the interest and curiosity 
of some people are excited and awakened whenever 
they hear the word gipsies mentioned, or any refer- 
ence made to their romantic life, which is shrouded 
in so much mystery, that it is difficult, even to the 
industrious student of ethnology, to ascertain who 
and what the gipsies really are. In commencing 
an account of our many interviews with the gipsies, 
we may state it was in mid-winter, about Christmas 
time, that we started, one cold morning, on a journey 
of twenty miles, the greater part of which was 
travelled by rail, but the remainder of it was 
traversed on foot, the residence of the clergyman 
we were about to visit lying in a cross-country 
direction. The scene around was gloomy; winter 
reigned supreme over nature; the melody of the 
birds was hushed ; scudding clouds swept angrily 
by ; and the north wind was piercingly cold. 

Just before reaching cur destination we discovered 
that some gipsies had pitched in a bye-lane two or 
three tents, whose tattered canvas flapped hither 
and thither in the wind. The men belonging to 
them were away, but two women, a girl and four 
boys formed an interesting group. One of the 
women was suffering from contraction of the muscles 
of one of her legs, the result of a chill, "caught," 


she said, "in the damp lanes;'* the other woman, 
who was pale and attenuated, with her head en- 
veloped in a red kerchief, was sitting on the ground 
beside a few embers burning at the opening of 
the tent. The children were scantily clad, and 
in all respects presented a rough and wild aspect; 
they nevertheless exhibited a rollicking gaiety of 
heart, as they occasionally gave specimens of 
their gymnastic acquirements, which invariably 
ended with the appeal, "Give us a penny, good 
genleman ! " 

Within view of this camping spot stood two or 
three village mansions, silently eloquent of archi- 
tectural genius without, of light, plenty, and comfort 
within, and at the same time forming a striking 
contrast to the fragile habitations of the gipsies 
referred to; especially as a little distance only 
divided these two extremes of social life. It was 
on this occasion we became more than ever con- 
vinced that we have dwelling amongst us a race 
of human beings who differ widely from our- 
selves, not only in their origin t but in their life 
and habits, and who are altogether distinct from 
the professional tramp, or roaming casual ; in fact 


It is an error to suppose that all are gipsies who 
lead roving and gipsy-like lives. There are many 
men and women of our own race who, through 
different causes and for various reasons, betnko 
themselves to the same wandering mode of life as 
that led by gipsy nomads* 

b 2 



We know an instance in which a gentleman of 
good family had so great a partiality to the gipsy 
people and their romantic life, that during the summer- 
time he would join them, travel when they travelled, 
stop where they stopped, and in all respects lived 
their life, and was one with them, excepting that 
he had his own horse and van very comfortably 
fitted up, but which he never would allow to be 
occupied by any one but himself. The rambles of 
this eccentric gentleman with the gipsies extended 
through several summers. 

There are also great numbers of men and women 
with their families, most of them natives of the 
" black country," who are constantly travelling 
about, and living in vans, the outsides of which are 
usually laden with brooms, brushes, baskets, and 
other articles for domestic use, and who are on this 
account looked upon as gipsies, but with whom 
they can claim no physical relationship whatever. 
Th6 only things in which they are at all identical 
are the occupations they follow, and their wan- 
dering life. 

With but few exceptions, those who claim kindred 
with the pure remnants of the gipsy people may be 
easily known by certain physical peculiarities which 
that race everywhere presents. The men are; as a 
rule, of middle stature, well made and muscular, 
remarkably upright and full chested, while in 
walking their step is firm and quick. Some of the 
gipsy men measure six feet high, and we knew one 
who was two inches taller. Some of the women in 
youth have very handsome features. Their arched 
nostrils, prominent septa, their hair, flowing in , 


glossy tresses over their tawny but well-formed 
shoulders, their noses, mostly of Grecian type, the 
pearly lustre of their dark piercing eyes, their 
confident mode of address, and ready command of 
language, with other characteristics, furnish cor- 
roborative evidence that they are as distinct a people 
as the Jews* 

Restless as the gipsies really are, we may easily 
recognise them even in our streets as tinkers, razor 
and scissors grinders, vendors of clothes-pegs, lines, 
and tin-ware. 

They may be seen at feasts, fairs and races, as 
horse-dealers, fiddlers, fortune-tellers, and, it may be, 
as sharpers. The women and girls may be easily 
distinguished from others by the gay colours of their 
dresses, their red and yellow kerchiefs, and by their 
plaid shawls, which in most cases are richer in 
colour than in real value. The men may be known 
by their slouching hats, velveteen coats and vests, 
covered profusely with steel buttons, by their 
trousers and small-clothes of corduroy, and we may 
add, by their swarthy complexions and marked 
profiles. By these they may be readily picked out 
of the largest crowd, among whom they may tempo- 
rarily mingle. 

A visit to the greenwood side, to the deep recesses 
of some wide-spread forest, to the bye-road, to the 
unfrequented lane with its thick shady hedge, and to 
the sheltering embankment under which is pitched 
the humble tent, where the smoke ascends in curling 
clouds from the wood fire, and where the "pot" 
sends forth a savoury steam, upon which the dark 
eyes of a tawny group are intently fixed, will at 


once convince us that the gipsies voluntarily yield to 
a feeling of separation from civilised society, and 
that they have but little or no desire to fraternise 
with other races of men. Reform has at no time 
seemed to inspire them, for they cling to the notions 
and customs which their forefathers entertained and 
observed as tenaciously as to life itself. Time, which 
in its revolutions affects well-nigh everything, which 
causes thrones to totter, and once mighty empires to 
pass away like a fleeting cloud, has scarcely effected 
any change for the better, either in the social life, 
the habits, or ideas of these mysterious tribes. 

Although nearly four centuries have elapsed since 
the immigration of gipsies, they are almost as distinct 
a race now as they were then. Admitting that some 
of this people have amalgamated with our own and 
other races, it is nevertheless a mistake to suppose 
they are rapidly becoming extinct. We state on the 
authority of the late Rev. J. West, that during the 
time of Queen Elizabeth the gipsies numbered only 
10,000, but that now we have amongst us from 
18,000 to 20,000 of them, a very large portion of 
whom live in our lanes, sleep under our hedges or 
in vans, and are in a state of moral and mental 

From the most correct statistical information 
obtainable on this subject we learn that on the 


the entire race numbering about 900,000. They are 
very numerous in Transylvania. We have been 


credibly informed that in Pestli and neighbourhood 
there are 10,000 of them; in Spain about 00,000; 
in Hungary 40,000; in Turkey 100,000. Before 
the late Franco-German war took place the forest of 
Lorraine swarmed with them, and they now abound 
in great numbers in Moldavia, Wallachia, in Russia, 
and other parts of Europe and Asia. Numbers of 
this strange race may be seen at the present time 
near the Jaffa gate at Jerusalem, where, in a state 
of senii-nudity, they sit and solicit alms of those 
who may be entering or returning from that sacred 

In all these countries, as well as in England, this 
people are distinct from those among whom they 
wander. Everywhere they seem to be inspired with 
the idea that " self-interest n is the first law of 
nature ; for in their dealings with other people they 
are influenced only by the calls of necessity, and a 
desire to secure and to increase their own success. 
Selfishness is not, however, more innate in them 
than it is in other people ; its existence and ex- 
hibition are, no doubt, the consequences of their sad 

So exclusive are the gipsies, both in their notions 
and habits, that no recognition of mutual interest, 
nor sense of moral and social obligations, binds them 
in the bond of brotherhood with other men. They 
live apart from others, have a nationality of their 
own, which in every way they strive to perpetuate. 
They scorn the fetters of civilization, and revel with 
delight in wild freedom. 

We are informed by a popular writer on gipsies 
that a certain rite is practised in Spain by this 



people, called " the infusion of blood," which ap- 
pears to be employed by them for the purpose 
of intermingling the tide of their lives, and of 
binding them together in a strange brotherhood of * 
blood. When a child is about a year old, and in 
order to inoculate it doubly with the gipsy spirit, 
so that no association in after life shall separate it 
from the life and habits of its forefathers, they 
open the flesh of its arm, and by a wooden tube 
infuse therein the blood of another full-born gipsy* 
who has been true to the life and spirit- of their 
league from childhood. The wound is then healed, 
being securely closed and bound together, and 
the blood thus mingled in the system of the child 
is believed, on philosophical grounds, so to im- 
pregnate the system as to imbue it in part with 
the spirit of him from whom it was taken. Although 
we are not aware that this custom is observed by 
English gipsies, the practice, as resorted to by the 
Gitanos of Spain, gives corroborative proof that the 
gipsies are a strange, mysterious, and separate 

Scattered as they are throughout so many countries 
in which different languages are spoken, we may 
naturally suppose that in them 


For instance, in Poland they are called " Zingani " ; 
in Italy, " Zingari " ; " Gitanos " in Spain ; " Bohe- 
mians " in France ; 44 Ziegenners " in Germany ; 
" Heydenen " in Hdland ; " Siganos " in Portugal ; 
in Lithunia they are known as "Zigonas" ; in 


Turkey as H Tchinganes"; and amongst the Moors 
and Arabians as " Charami," Robbers ; by the 
Persians they are called ** Sesech Hindou," or 
" Black Indians." Their most ancient name is that 
of "Suite/* or inhabitants of the banks of the 
" Sinde " or " Indus." The celebrated M. Hasee has 
tried to prove that for the last 3000 years there 
have been in Europe wandering tribes bearing the 
name of " Segynes," or " Sinti." He considers the 
modern gipsies are^ the descendants of these ancient 

Referring to the appellation this people bear in 
England, Mr, S. H. Ward, who expresses a by no 
means uncommon notion entertained on this subject, 
says : ** The word gipsy is corrupted from the word 
Egyptian, for they were imagined to have come 
from Egypt." It is tolerably certain that when this 
people first came to this country they called them- 
selves " Egyptians," but it is far more likely that the 
term gipsies was applied to them from the Greek 
word " gyps " (yv^), a vulture (which Greek word 
is applied to an undergraduate's valet at Oxford and 
Cambridge), and as the gipsies have been, in many 
cases, deservedly stigmatised as plunderers and petty 
swindlers, it is probable that they were so denomi- 
nated on that account. 

It will be inferred from the foregoing statements 
that there is scarcely any country in Europe without 
its gipsies, ** but .how far the treatment they have 
received from civilized nations, among whom they 
have been universally objects of contempt or per- 
secution, has tended to keep them in their present 
state of intellectual debasement by strengthening 


their prejudices and driving them to the usual 
resources of indigence, demands the serious and 
dispassionate consideration of every friend of hu- 

The gipsies in England are not, as some people 
suppose, altogether regardless of the interdictions of 
our laws, the force of which they have often felt, nor 
are they slow in availing themselves, when it is 
necessary, of the protection the laws of this country 
afford. Gipsies, however, have laws peculiar to 
themselves for their own government, and which 
they rigidly carry out. These having been orally 
transmitted from fathers to sons, during the whole 
period of their sojourn in England, furnishes another 
proof that gipsies wish to remain a separate people, 
not only here, but in every country where they 

The custom of dividing themselves into clans or 
companies, each clan appointing over it a presiding 
genius in the person of an experienced man or 
woman, to whom they submit with deference, affords 
further proof of their distinct nationality. Although 
the practice of electing a king or queen to rule over 
them is on the decline, if not altogether obsolete, yet 
the distinction was, some time ago, conferred upon 
a female gipsy in Scotland, of which the Kelso 
Chronicle gives the following account : — 


" The coronation of her majesty, Queen Esther Faa 
Blyth, which has been for a few weeks a subject of 
much discussion, took place last week. There were 


70 candidates in the field for the vacant honour, 
tt was decided to settle the matter by election ; but 
on the day fixed for the purpose, no opposition was 
offered, and she (Esther) was forthwith chosen 
queen, and the coronation ceremony duly performed. 
The royal proclamation which she issued had the 
effect of calling together a goodly number of the 
tribe ; but the weather became very unfavourable, 
and no doubt deterred many of the general public 
from witnessing the ceremony. On this interesting 
occasiou Esther was accompanied by princes and 
princesses of the royal blood — her brother, Prince 
Charles, and nephew of the same name and title ; 
and two of the princesses attended her majesty on 
horseback, some of her majesty's grandchildren also 
being present. The queen, mounted upon her 
palfrey, proceeded to the cross, where the ceremony 
of coronation was to be performed, the crown-bearer 
and crowner following behind, 

"The procession having halted, the crowner stepped 
forward, and placed the coronet upon her head, a 
Scotch thistle being a prominent object upon it. 
The crowner, from a roll of parchment, proclaimed 
that he^ having crowned her deceased father, King 
Charles, from his inherent right of crowner, and 
from the fact of the late king dying intestate, now 
placed the crown upon the head of Esther, and with 
public proclamation at the cross of her dominions, 
he proclaimed her Queen Esther Faa Blytb, 1 Chal- 
genge who dare/ On the termination of the royal 
ceremony her loyal subjects rent the air with three 
times three cheers, and long life and happiness to 
^ueen Esther was the general cry. The queen, in a 



short and pathetic speech, thanked her subjects for 
the high honour they had conferred upon her in 
choosing her to occupy the throne of her ancestors, 
and expressed the hope that during her reign they 
would conduct themselves quietly and live at peace 
with all men. 

"Afterwards a congratulatory address was pre- 
sented to her majesty on her happy accession to the 
throne, expressing a fervent wish that she might 
long worthily fulfil the duties of her royal house. 
A supply of genuine * mountain dew ' was handed 
round, and flowing bumpers quaffed to her majesty's 
health and happiness. The procession being again 
formed, the queen's piper, riding his ' sprightly* 
charger, his wife Elizabeth acting as groom-in- 
waiting, attended by a whole host of followers, 
proceeded through the village, calling at the various 
inns, and refreshing her attendants, her majesty 
frequently recognising individuals of her acquain- 
tance. After they had returned to the cross, the 
queen in a short speech thanked her attendants and 
subjects for their attention, and seated on the chair 
of state proposed that * Lamed Jamie* and her 
majesty, with her sister-in-law and royal brother, 
should lead down the dance, which was done with 
spirit, but the slippery state of the green pre- 
vented the free use of the feet After awhile, how- 
ever, the rain compelled them to retire under 
cover, where her majesty held a * levee,' the royal 
princes and princesses and retinue only being 

Although the gipsies claim one common origin, 
and are similar in their dispositions, tastes, and 


habits, there is nevertheless amongst them an aris- 
tocracy who have such notions of superiority that 
some of the clans will form no matrimonial alliance 
with others whom they deem inferior to themselves. 
It is also very rcmarkahle that in the few instances 
in which gipsies of this and other countries have 
been induced to abandon tent life and to settle in 
towns, they nevertheless pride themselves in belong- 
ing to the gipsy race, and in possessing a knowledge 
of their language, although they try to conceal the 
fact of their gipsy descent from other people because of 
the ill-feeling which everywhere exists against them. 

Referring to the separatedness of gipsies from all 
other races of men, a certain writer on this subject 
ys : " That they were a peculiar variety of the 
uman species, and had hereditary causes, whether 
rejudices or traditions, which stamped them as 
distinctly and stubbornly a separate portion of 
humanity as the Jews, became obvious enough. That 
which had been supposed a mere gibberish in their 
mouth was found to be true Eastern language, and 
infested all the world. In every quarter of it they 
„ere found exhibiting the same strange and un- 
bangeable lineaments, manners and habits; in 
gypt as separate from the Egyptians in speech and 
custom as they are separate from the English in 

We have never been able to prevail upon any 
ipsies with whom we have conversed to admit that 
ny tie of consanguinity connects them either with 
the Jews or the Gentiles 5 and yet, like the former, 
they are a bye-word in well-nigh every nation ; M they 
re dispersed, despised, without a country and with- 



out a king ; with a nationality unbroken either by 
time, persecution, or admixture of blood, with a spirit 
of clanship and brotherhood that nothing has ever 
been able to quench." They remain to this day a 
distinct and separate people. 




Gipsy girl on Bow Common — Robert Loo and hie forefathers— 
I>ifferent theories of the origin of gipsies — The jata, or 
yats — A Persian monarch — The Arabs and the Jews— Sndras 
and Pariahs — Words of the Hindostanoe, gipsy, and English 
langnages — Old Lovell t the gipsy scissors-grin dor— Choice of 
food — Pursuits of gipsies— Religion of gipsies and Sudras — 
Resemblance in personal features — The woodman's gipsy 
wife — The comparisons — Staining the 'babbies' — Gipsy 
Bos well and the shepherd kings, ifcc. 

* Why floats the silvery wreath 
Of light thin smoke from yonder bank of heath ? 
What forms are those beneath the shaggy trees, 
In tattered tents scarce sheltered from the breeze ? 


The hoary father and the ancient damo, 
And squalid children, cowering o'er the flame, 
The swarthy lineaments — the wild attire — 
The stranger tones bespeak an Eastern Sire." 

Stanley. — " Prize poem." 

The origin of the gipsies is involved in considerable 
obscurity, as shown in the fact that they possess 
no direct or well authenticated information on the 
subject at all likely to lead to a right solution of 
this difficult problem. In illustration of this we 
may refer to a conversation we once had with a 
gipsy woman who was at that time, with others of 
her tribe, camping on Bow Common. 

" As you know," we said to her, " gipsies are not 
of our race, but altogether distinct from us both in 
life and habits, do you, or any of your folks know 
what country the forefathers of the gipsies were 
supposed to be natives of, or in which they lived 
before they came to England ? " 

"Oh!" replied the woman, "it would take me 
a long time to explain that to you, so you must 
excuse my trying to do so." Having assured her 
that we did not wish her to enter into details re- 
specting the matter, we asked, " Did your people 
come, in the first place, from Egypt or from India ? " 
From the vague and laconic answer we received to 
our enquiry it was evident that this woman knew 
less of general geography, and the relative positions 
the above countries sustain to each other, than she 
did of the topography of either Bow Common or of 
that of many of the lanes and cozy nooks of this her 
native country; for after some hesitation, and ap- 
parent effort to give us what information she could, 
she replied, " Why, sare, we believe we came from 



both them countries, and that is all I can tell you/* 
Of course we were made very little wiser for our 
inquisitiveness on the origin of this strange race. 

We once asked Robert Lee, a very intelligent 
gipsy-man, the same question we had asked the 
woman referred to, when, in a half-angry tone of 
voice, he replied, u I don't know, sir, nor I don't care; 
I knows I'm here, and that's all that concerns me." 

It is said that about thirty different theories on 
the origin of the gipsies have been entertained by 
learned men ; many of whom have paid special 
attention to this subject. We shall, however, refer 
only to a few of them. 

As we have already stated, some persons suppose 


This notion prevails to a great extent amongst all 
classes of society in England, especially amongst 
our peasantry. One morning we happened to visit 
Stonehouse, a village in Gloucestershire, on which 
occasion we overheard some remarks made by two 
women on a gipsy girl passing down the other side 
of the road opposite to where they were standing. 

"I say," said one of the women to the other, 
"why that's a gipsy; they're queer sort o' folks 
arnt they ? I wonders where they came from ? " 

" Lor/' said the other woman, " doant you know? 
I can tell you ; they came from Egypt to be sure, 
and that's the reason why they be called gipsies." 

Common, however, as this notion of the origin 
of the gipsies may be, it is very remarkable that 
but few words of the Coptic or ancient language of 




Egypt are to be found in the gipsy dialect, and that 
gipsies have always been regarded in that " land 
of wonders " as strangers, aliens, and foreigners. 

Although the gipsies are known by different 
appellations in the various countries of continental 
Europe, yet everywhere they are considered to be 
Egyptians. This, we think, may be easily accounted 
for. It is well known that many of the ancient 
Egyptians had the "character of great cheats," 
whence the name might afterwards pass proverbially 
into other languages. 

There is no doubt that the gipsies in their migra- 
tions visited Egypt, where they acquired an ex- 
tended knowledge of sleight of hand, legerdemain, 
astrology and fortune-telling. After leaving Egypt, 
and making their appearance in Europe and after- 
wards in Great Britain, it no doubt soon became 
known that these strangers had not only come from 
Egypt, but that they w r ere cheating and deceiving 
the people by practising many of those tricks they 
had learned in the country from which they had 
been driven. Hence arise two reasons why they 
are thought by so many to be of Egyptian origin. 

Other writers believe that 


a notion which is referred to by the Ettrick shepherd 
in the following lines : — 

" ! mark them well when next the group you see 
In vacant barn or resting on the lea ; 
They are the remnant of a race of old; 
Spare not the trifle for your fortune told ; 



For then ahalt thou l>eholtl with nature blent 
A tint of mind in every lineament ; 
A mould of soul distinct, but hard to trace, 
Unknown, except to Israel's wandering race ; 
From thence, as Sages say, their line they drew ; 
O mark them well, the tales of old are true," 

Philologists state that not more than fifty Hebrew 
'ords are to be found in the language of the gipsies ; 
and in no part of the world do gipsies observe any 
ceremony peculiar to the Hebrew nation. 

The belief that the gipsies are of Israeli tish origin 
appears to derive some support from the adoption 
by them of several names found in the old and new 
Testament — such as Adam, Seth, Noah, Abraham, 
Ebenezer, Joseph, Moses, Israel, Isaac, Jacob, 
Hezekiab, Jonab, Solomon, David, Daniel, Obadiah, 
Amos, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, &c. 
This belief is, however, weakened by the fact that 
the same Scripture names are of common use amongst 
ourselves* We are not aware that any conclusive 
proof has yet been given by any writer that the 
majority, at least, of the English people can claim 
any consanguinity with the children of Israel, 


has also its advocates, who argue that the similarity 
of manners and of physical conformation between 
gipsies and the roving hordes of Arabia prove their 
common descent. Hogg states them to have been a 
u tribe of Arabs, who during the Crusades were 
induced to act as guides and allies of the Crusaders 
againBt Jerusalem, and were compelled, on the 
retreat of the Christians, to flee/' 

c 2 


One writer says : " It is not surprising that they 
should be regarded as the real descendants of 
Ishmael, for they have all the characteristics of his 
race ; an eastern people, retaining all the features of 
mind or body in unchangeable fixedness; neither 
growing fairer in the temperate latitudes, nor darker 
in the sultry ones ; perpetual wanderers and dwellers 
in tents, active, fond of horses, often herdsmen; 
artful, thievish, restrained by no principle but that 
of a cunning policy from laying hands on any man's 
possessions; fond to enthusiasm of the chase after 
game, though obliged to follow it at midnight, as 
everlastingly isolated by their organic or moral 
conformation from the people amongst whom they 
dwell as the Jews themselves." 

A gentleman of high classical attainments, and 
well known to us, having studied this question deeply, 
has arrived at the conclusion that these nomadic 
tribes, both English and Continental, are 


and that all the prophecies of the Old Testament 
relating to the offspring of those two men apply to 
the gipsies, in whose future history the predictions 
will have their fulfilment. 

Pallas infers from their dialect that their ancient 
country was Moultan, and their origin the same as 
that of Hindoo merchants, who at the time he 
wrote were at Astrakan. 

Referring to the origin of the gipsies, Eaphael 
Volaterranus says, in the twelfth book of his 
Geography, " that this kind of people were derived 


from the Uxii, a people of Persia ; " and that Syllax, 
who wrote the history of the Emperors of Constanti- 
nople, says that they foretold the empire to the 
Emperor Michael Traulus, 

It is supposed by some that the origin of the 
gipsies may be traced to the 


who during the ninth and tenth centuries lived at 
the base of the Himalaya Mountains in Northern 
India, where they kept herds and flocks which they 
drove from one part of the country to another, 
wherever food could be obtained for them. The Jats 
appear to have been very partial to music, and that 
their fame as musicians having reached the ear of 
the then King of Persia, several of them with 
their families were invited by him to go to that 
country, and conditionally that they taught the 
subjects of the king the use of musical instruments, 
they were to occupy in their own right a large 
portion of land, which they were to cultivate for their 
own support. 

The offer was accepted by the Jats, who forthwith 
left India to locate, as described, in a certain part of 
Persia, All went on for a long period agreeably to 
the wishes and objects of the Persian monarch. In 
time, however, the Jats became indifferent, not 
only to the cultivation of their land, but to their 
duties as teachers of music. They also became lazy, 
and acquired habits which were likely to have a 
baneful influence over others. The king saw this, 
and therefore* by his order, the Jats were sent 



about their business, and, of course, deprived of all 
claim to the land and the homes they had previously 

They then commenced a wandering life, going 
here and there as circumstances controlled or com- 
pelled them, and which their descendants have 
continued to do to this day. This is one of the 
theories entertained of the origin of the gipsy race. 

In a short account of the gipsies written a few 
years since we learn that a gentleman was informed 
by an intelligent member of the tribe that the gipsy 
race sprang from a cross between 


that left Egypt in the train of the Jews, see Exodus 
xii. 38 : "A mixed multitude went up also with 
them ; " and Hengstengberg, in his work on the 
Pentateuch, states that he supposes the "mixed 
multitudes " were an inferior order of workmen 
employed like the Jews as slaves in building the 
Pyramids and Treasure cities in Egypt. This " mixed 
multitude " could have nothing in common with the 
Jews but their desire to escape from the slavery of 
Egypt. The Jews had their mission to go to the 
northward, and subdue the fierce tribes of Palestine ; 
the "mixed multitude" must have separated from 
them, and as Simpson supposes that they could not 
go north-east, for there lay the powerful empire of 
Assyria, on the south the sea presented an im- 
passable barrier, and " their only alternative was 
to proceed east, through Arabia, Petra, along the 
Gulf of Persia, through the Persian desert into 



Northern Hindostan, where they formed the gipsy 
caste, and whence they issued, after the lapse of 
many centuries, in possession of the language of 
Hindostan, and thence spread themselves over the 

** After their separation from the Jews, this mixed 
multitude, without resources, would find it necessary 
to their existence to appropriate or Bteal anything 
that was required by them to eat or wear; being 
an inferior order of slaves, they would have few, 
if any religious opinions, nor would their moral 
feelings be any bar to their possessing themselves 
of what seemed needful to their well-being. While 
in Egypt the strong prejudice of caste would be felt 
and understood by them, and on reaching Hindostan 
they would find the same feelings prevail every- 
where, their peculiar language and habits would 
keep them together, and they would have no alter- 
native but to remain aloof from the other in- 

Although many arguments may be adduced in 
favour of the theories we have already referred to> 
we think it necessary to look to some other quarter 
for something more likely to solve the question. 
Cloudy as the gipsies 1 origin may be, and with but 
little else to guide us but analogy, those who try to 
trace them to 


have, we believe, the strongest argument to support 
their theory. 

It is Bomewhat remarkable that, scattered as the 


gipsies are over the world, and speaking the language 
of the country through which they wander, they 
retain a dialect of their own, common to the Gitanos 
of Spain, the Zingari of Italy, the Bohemians of 
France, the gipsies of England and those of the 
north. Grellman, in his "Dissertations on the 
Gipsies/' says : " Twelve out of every thirty words 
of their language are either pure Hindostanee, or 
bear a striking resemblance to it." 

Borrow states that " the language of the gipsies, 
formerly supposed to be the gibberish of thieves and 
pickpockets, is really Hindostanee." In the tents of 
these wanderers are spoken the dialect of the Vedas, 
Puranas, Brachmans and Budahs. This, in different 
tribes, is in some degree dashed with words of 
Sclavonic, Persic, Wogul, Finnic and Hungarian. 
The structure of the auxiliary verb is the same as 
others in the Indo-Pelasgic tongue, but the pronouns 
have a remarkable analogy with the Persic, and the 
declension of nouus with the Turkish. 

If an explorer were to meet with a race of men 
in the interior of Africa, or elsewhere, of whose 
language he probably would be totally ignorant, but 
which he might ascertain contained a few English 
words, he would naturally conclude that the race of 
men referred to must, at some time and in some way 
or other, either have been thrown in contact with 
one or more Englishmen, or that a member of their 
own tribe had visited this country, where he had 
learned some words of our language, and afterwards 
introduced them amongst his own race. 

Reasoning by analogy, and taking for granted 
that the statement made by Grellman respecting the 



affinity of many words of the dialect of the gipsies, 
as spoken by them in nearly every part of the world, 
and of the Hindostanee language is correct, then we 
have strong presumptive evidence in favour of the 
theory of the Hindoo Sudra, or Pariah, origin of the 
gipsy people* 

Many persons who have resided in India, and 
who are well acquainted with Hindostanee, have 
been, when speaking in that language to English 
gipsies, much surprised that it was so readily under- 
stood by them, and equally so on finding that many 
words of the gipsy dialect, as used by the gipsies, 
were almost identical with Hindostanee. 

The late Rev. James Crabb states in his " Gipsies* 
Advocate" that Lord Teignmouth once said to a 
young gipsy woman in Hindostanee, "Tue hurra 
tschur" that is, u Thou art a great thief* 9 She 
immediately replied, iC No, I'm not a thief ; I live by 

The following list of words not only shows the 
similarity between Hindostanee and the gipsy dialect, 
but is, we think, corroborative of the statements 
we have just made, and for which we are indebted 
to a gentleman long resident in India. 

His&offT Aires. Gipsy* English. 

Hatch, Ratti, Night. 

Kuppft, Rup, Silver. 

Awk, Aok, The eye. 

K&wn, Kan, The ear, 

Bal, Bal, The hair. 

Techik, Sik, The taste. 

Ma, Mui, The mouth. 

Gorra, Grea, Horse, 

urr, Keir, House. 


frmvrm A 1TT\ TT A VT 







Brook, Water, 

jl oorana, 


Age, old. 







or cnucna 















TTn otoah n t". 
\j >j mil i/| 

V UllgUoU, 



T>_ 11 



Nfth or Nfih 





Soon 9 


x tti c», 



I 111 V*AO V* 


Ayu J » v , 












TTrwwaVi'fn TvVlr 

JxUUOillAi LAyA., 

Good luck. 



V/ 111 XL, 


Sing or Sring, 





Lon, \ 


r>ootie 9 


Work, Embroidery. 



Rati a 


Asleep, to sleep. 











Boozopoor bov, 













A Tent. 





Iok, Ek, 
























When we consider that the gipsies during their 
wanderings never possessed any grammar, or lexicon, 
and that their dialect has heen handed down orally 
only, it is marvellous that so many of the above 
Hindostanee and gipsy words do not differ more in 
orthography than they do, and that, in most cases, 
the pronunciation of them is so much alike. 

The dialect of the gipsies contains also many 
words picked up by this people in their migrations 
through the various countries of Continental Europe. 
For instance, as spoken by the Gitanos of Spain, it 
is mixed with many words of the Spanish language ; 
in Italy, with Italian ; in Germany, with German ; 
in France, with French ; and that it is in England 
mixed with English words may be seen in the 
following laconic sentence a gipsy woman, of the 
name of Buckland, used to us to intimate that we 
must pay for the information she had given us 
respecting the gipsy dialect, " I wish," c she said, 
" the Rei would chiv his vast adri his putsey and 
delmande a shoohora," meaning, M I wish the gentle- 
man would put his hand into his pocket and give 
me sixpence." 

Some years ago we happened to meet, in one of 
the crowded thoroughfares of London, a 



to whom we said in the gipsy dialect, " Cushty sala," 
and " Sah shan ? " (Good morning ; how do you 
do ? " which seemed not only to arrest his attention, 
but very much to surprise him. He nevertheless 
courteously responded by saying, " Cushty sala, my 
Rei " (Good morning, my gentleman). 

In the course of conversation with this gipsy we 
ascertained that he was born in a sand-pit on 
Hampstead Heath, and that although he had fre- 
quently made excursions into the country during the 
summer season, he had lived the greatest part of 
his time in London, and had followed the occupation 
of a razor, knife, and scissors-grinder. He said he 
was then eighty-five years old, and that his wife 
was about two or three years younger. 

During this interview the old gipsy, being very 
infirm, leaned upon his grinding machine, which, 
even at his advanced age, he still used to pick up 
a living, although it must have been a very pre- 
carious one. Just as we turned to resume our 
journey the old gipsy pointed to a public house, and 
said to us, " Will you delmande a ticknee levinar 
in this keir, my Rei ? " (Will you give me a glass 
of beer in this house, my gentleman ?) We gave 
him a few coppers, for which he seemed to be very 
thankful, and said in the politest way imaginable, 
" Parakor tut " (Thank you). 

Putting the coin in his pocket, and then laying 
his hands on his grinding machine, he was about to 
move on, when it occurred to us that this was a 



favourable opportunity of finding out whether he, 
as a London gipsy, had any acquaintance with the 
dialect of his people beyond a few words or short 
sentences. For this purpose we resolved to repeat 
to him Borne verses having reference to an objection- 
able practice, of which gipsies, both on the Continent 
and in England, are sometimes guilty. So asking 
him to remain a moment or two, we began — 

Te mande shoon ye Romany chals, 

Who been in the pus about the yag ; 
111 pen how we drab the baulo ; 
111 pen how we drab the baulo. 

Colico, colico, saulo we, 

ApopH to the farming ker ; 
We'll well and niang him nmllo ; 
We'll well and mang hia truppo* 

And bo we Kairs and so we Kaixs 
The baulo in the rardey mors ; 
We'll mang him on the Saulo 
And rig to the tan the baulo. 

And then hifl trnppo well we'll batch 

Kin levinar at the kitchema ; 
And have a kosko habben 
A kosko Romany habben/' 

During the recital of the above lines, which form 
part of a gipsy song entitled "The Poisoned 
Porker/* a frown gathered over old Lovell's face, 
which indicated that he quite understood the 
practice we had referred to, as he rather unwillingly 
admitted it was not only true, but a disgrace to the 
people to whom he belonged. 

Another reason why we may believe that gipsies 
are of Sudra or Pariah origin is, 




Sudras eat many things that are prohibited by the 
religion of the Hindoos. 

English gipsies have been known, when pressed 
with hunger, especially in severe weather, to eat 
animals that have died of disease, and others that 
have never been offered for sale in our markets, and 
which civilized people would refuse with disgust. 
It does not follow, however, that all those animals 
rejected by them, but accepted by the gipsies as 
articles of food, are not fit for human consumption, 
or that they do not possess considerable sustaining 
properties. Gipsies are fond of snails, and very 
partial to hedgehogs; which they do not always 
resort to through sheer necessity, but from choice. 
Some of the more wealthy gipsy families are not 
only now more particular than formerly in their 
selection of food, but indulge in dainty and delicate 
fare, and will often pay exorbitant prices for fruit 
and other things when in season. 


identify them with those of the Sudras of India. 
The latter, it is well known, are very partial to 
horses. English gipsies deal extensively in them, 
and thoroughly understand the difference between 
* a sound cob, and a reedy garron." Many of them 
not only know how to manage horses, but possess 
the faculty of taming the most vicious of these 



animals. If gipsies have stolen horses, they do not 
alone deserve this accusation. All horsestealers are 
not gipsies, neither are all gipsies horsestealers. 

Sudras practice tinkering. Their forge, shop, 
tongs, hammers, files, and other tools their owners 
take with them, but they stop in those places only 
where employment can be obtained, 

Gipsy tinkers everywhere abound. Indeed so 
called gipsy kings and chiefs have not disdained to 
follow the vocation of grinding scissors, knives, razors, 
and mending kettles, for which purpose they, and 
other members of the gipsy tribes, carry with them 
suitable tools, as well as those necessary for making 
clothes-pegs, repairing chairs, and for making mats, 
brooms, baskets, and brushes of various kinds. 

Sudras dwell in huts and tents, and having no 
settled residence carry with them, wherever they go, 
not only their working appliances, but any other 
property that may belong to them. 

When gipsies travel, all they possess is taken 
with them, which in addition to the tools before 
mentioned, consists in many cases only of a few 
donkeys, old blankets, tent sticks, canvas, and 
cooking utensils. Some of the latter they utilize for 
many and widely different purposes ; potatoes are 
often cooked in the tea-kettle, and snails stewed in 
the ooffee-pot. 


being, in many respects, so strikingly similar, afford 
another proof of the identity of the origin of the 
above wandering tribes. The Sudras are regarded 


as unworthy of notice, having neither faith nor law ; 
and a Brahmin would consider himself contaminated 
if the shadow of one of these men should fall upon 
him. The Brahmins assert that the Sudras issued 
from the feet of Bramah, while they themselves 
sprang from his head. They also believe that India 
was specially given to them by God, and think it too 
sacred to be shared with the outcasts of that country. 
These notions have produced in the Sudras their 
natural results — aversion to the Brahmins, and 
indifference to the duties and ceremonies of the 
Hindoo religion. 

In these particulars the Sudras have counterparts 
in the gipsies of England, who are alike indifferent 
to the Christian religion and the customs of 
civilized life. We find another proof of the correct- 
ness of our theory in the fact that 


Although the latter are much darker in complexion 
than English gipsies, this dissimilarity is attributable, • 
in a great measure, to a difference in climate. In 
support of this we learn that, " when gipsies made 
their first appearance in Europe they were nearly 
black, and that the women were darker than the 
men." That gipsies living in northern latitudes are 
of lighter complexion than those living in southern 
latitudes is, we think, beyond dispute. The com- 
plexions of those few gipsies who, in our country, 
have become domesticated differ little from our own, 
although they retain those features and physical 


conformation of face by which their race may be 
everywhere distinguished. 

Some years since, when in the neighbourhood of 
Uxbridge, we met two gipsy women who presented 
the characteristics of the purest remnant of the 
gipsy people, and who were in all respects alike, 
save in complexion. The face of one of them was 
comparatively fair ; that of the other was of a deep 
nutrbrown colour, common, we believe, among the 
natives of Andalusia and those of other sunny 
climes. Both, however, had the same pearly lustre 
in their dark eyes, their hair was black and glossy, 
the noses of both inclined to the aquiline type, and 
the cheek bones of both were somewhat prominent. 

After a little conversation with these women we 
discovered that the difference in their complexion 
was the result of widely different habits of life. 
The gipsy with the fair face, after considerable 
reluctance, admitted that she had married a wood- 
man, a young man of our own race, with whom she 
had resided in a small cottage in the village of 
Denham for three years. The other woman with 
the brown-tanned face was then leading, as she had 
always done, the wandering life of the people to 
which she belonged. 

There can be no doubt that the exposure of 
gipsies to alternations of cold and heat — to incle- 
ment weather, to the scorching summer sun, to 
parching winds, and above all to the smoke of their 
wood fires — contributes very materially to make their 
skins much darker than they would be if, like our- 
selves, they lived in houses and not in tents. 

The fact that gipsies differ in complexion from the 



Sudras is no argument against the theory of their 
Sudra extraction. The Jews living in the cold 
north, in the warm south, in the genial west, and in 
the distant east, though differing in complexion one 
from the other, may be known by a peculiar cast or 
form of features. Although in the north they are 
fairer than are their brethren living in the south, 
and those in Arabia whose faces are nearly olive 
coloured, yet we are taught to believe that the 
Jews, wherever they live, originally came from the 
same progenitors. 

Diversity in complexions no doubt arises from a 
difference in climate, geographical position, and 
probably in a great measure from dissimilar habits, 
customs, and mode of life. 

In our conversations with gipsies we have some* 
times referred to the difference existing between 
their complexions and those of people who live in 
houses and lead a settled life, and we have inferred 
from their remarks on this subject that they are 
proud of this distinctive feature of their race, and 
that they often have recourse to artificial means in 
order to retain it. 

In proof of this we mention on good authority 
that many gipsy mothers are in the habit, when 
their babbies are only a few weeks or months old, of 
rubbing their little bodies all over with a dark liquid 
made by boiling together the roots of a certain wild 
plant, and young walnuts, or the leaves of the 
walnut tree. The children are then laid either in 
the warm sunshine, or near their camp fires, where 
they have to remain until the liquid is dried into 
their bodies ; and this the mothers do for the 



purpose, as they say, of ** enhancing the dark beauty 
of their offspring." 

Referring again to the notions some of the gipsies 
entertain of the origin of their predecessors, we may 
notice that as they have neither books nor records 
to guide them in this matter, and only two or three 
vague traditions which refer to their past history, no 
authentic information can be obtained from the 
gipsies themselves to settle the important question 
at issue. 

Sylvester Bagwell, an exceedingly intelligent 
gipsy man, with whom we have had several inter- 
views, told us that the gipsies have a tradition 
amongst them to the effect that they are "the 
descendants of the * Shepherd Kings/ who, in the 
year of the world 1900, made a raid upon Egypt, 
took and retained possession of the country during 
many years, but were at length overpowered and 
compelled to give up possession/' 

**He was not, however," he said, M disposed to 
deny that their forefathers lived in India 400 or 500 
years ago." He believed they did* 

But there is not, so far as we are aware, any well 
authenticated historical evidence or proofs to justify 
a belief in all the above assertions of the gipsy 
referred to ; and the traditions of this people al- 
together fail in supplying the defect. 

D 2 




Why gipsies left their native country — A gipsy tradition- 
First appearance in Europe — Gipsies in France and Spain, 
and how treated — Introduction into England— Legal en- 
actments—A fearful testimony — False evidence— The young 
gipsy and new-born child — The judge, and gipsy condemned 
to death— March of gipsies through England to Scotland — 
A letter from James IV. ; Johnne Faw, lord and erle — The 
Countess of Cassillis — Laws passed against gipsies in 
Scotland, &e. 

In India's far-famed sunny clime 

There lived an outcast race, we're told, 

Who fled before the cruel sword 
Of mighty Tamerlane of old* 


They left their country, and their homes, 

And shelter sought in other lands ; 
But even there the people cried, 

" Down with the wretched, thievish hands," 

Stem fate pursues them everywhere, 
From Hindostan to England's shore ; 

But little sympathy they find ; 

No resting spot, the wide world o'er. 

Assuming that the Sudras and gipsies were once 
identical, under what circumstances did the latter 
leave India? According to Brand, whom we may 
regard as a reliable authority, it appears that in 
1408 or 1409 India was invaded by Tamerlane, a 
powerful Mahommedan warrior, with a view to 
proselytise the heathen to the religion in which 
himself believed, and on which occasion upwards 
of 500,000 persons were put to the sword, and 
subjected to great brutalities. 

Hoy land, in referring to the same invasion, says 
that u 100,000 human beings were cruelly put to 
death, and very many of those who were not slain 
left the country in order to save their lives." 
Among them there were, no doubt, many of the 
Sudras supposed to be the forefathers of the gipsies 
of tins and of other countries, and who were com- 
pelled by the tyrannical Tamerlane to seek protection, 
homes, and shelter in other lands. 

It is conjectured that these fugitives in their 
migrations passed, after leaving Iudia, along the 
shores of the Persian Gulf, stopped at Bassora, 
crossed Arabia, and thence made their way into 
Turkey. But there is better reason to suppose 
they crossed the Isthmus of Suez, made their 




appearance in northern Egypt, and then journeyed 
southward to Nubia. Here probably they re- 
mained for some time, leading a nomadic life, 
and obtaining from the natives additions to their 
already acquired practices of legerdemain, fortune- 
telling, &c. 

According to a tradition extant among the gipsies, 
it would appear that the ostensible cause of their 
predecessors leaving Egypt for other countries in 
continental Europe was " the severe persecutions to 
which both Christians and themselves were subjected 
by the Moslems, who wished, like Tamerlane, to 
subjugate, and then make them converts to their 
own faith." 

Although we have never seen any account of the 
precise route taken by the gipsies after leaving 
Egypt for other countries, yet some historians fix 
the date of 


in the early part of the fifteenth century. They 
were observed in Germany in the year 1414; in 
Switzerland in 1418; in Italy in 1422; in Spain 
and in Paris about 1427. 

Mr. Ward informs us that "when they first 
appeared in Germany they represented themselves 
as Egyptians, doing penance for having refused 
hospitality to the Virgin and Son." It was on this 
account that the Emperor of Germany, the King of 
Poland, and other Christian princes when they 
heard this fell upon them, and obliged them all 
both great and small to quit their country and go 


to the Pope of Rome, who enjoined them seven years' 
penance to wander over the world without lying in 
a bed; every bishop and abbot to give them ten 
Hvres tournois, and he gave them letters to this 
purpose and his blessing. 

So much were the gipsies hated in Germany that 
by some they were not looked upon as human 
beings, but as mere secondary, or inferior forms of 
animal life, who might be severely dealt with, 
punished on the slightest pretext, imprisoned, or 
even put to death in order to get rid of a number 
of pests the world would be better without, "It 
is," says one writer, " a matter of authentic record 
that one of the petty sovereigns in Germany, when 
out hunting one day, set his hounds to run down a 
gipsy whom he found in a wood nursing a baby/' 

After wandering about for five years 


Pasquier, in his * Recherches de la Frame" says, 
in referring to this people, that " On August 17th, 
1427, came to Paris twelve penitents, aa they called 
themselves, viz,, a duke, an earl, and ten men, all 
on horseback, and calling themselves good Christians. 
They were of lower Egypt, and gave out that not 
long before the Christians had subdued their country, 
and obliged them to embrace Christianity, or put 
them to death ; those who were baptized were great 
lords in their own country, and had a King and 
Queen there. Some time after their conversion the 
Saracens overrun their country and obliged them 
to renounce Christianity," 


It is stated by another authority that the men 
above mentioned by Pasquier brought with them 
120 persons, who took up their quarters in La 
Chapelle, whither the people flocked in crowds to 
see them. They had their ears pierced, from which 
depended a ring of silver ; their hair was black and 
crispy, and their women were extremely filthy, and 
were sorceresses who told fortunes. " By the super- 
stitious multitude they were, as a rule, regarded as 
wizards, and by the magistrates more as vagabonds 
and thieves ; so that for a very long period the gipsy 
population was kept under in a most practically 
Malthusian manner by the aid of the stake and the 
halter." Prior to 1789 the Lieutenant Criminel of 
France was perpetually harrying the Bohemians, but 
since the Great Revolution they have been left alone, 
and now have all the rights of French citizens. 

In Spain repeated edicts were passed under the 
severest penalties to exterminate these wandering 
tribes, and that land, for two hundred years, was little 
less than a terrestrial Inferno for the Gitanos, groups 
of whom might often be seen doomed to be burnt, 
whipped or branded. The Spaniards of that time 
accused them of driving with the Moors a nefarious 
traffic in Christian children ; in Turkey some people 
believed them to be devourers of human flesh, and in 
every country imputations of the foulest kind have 
been made against them with a view of annihilating 
the hated race, but to no purpose. The gipsies, 

44 More outcast and despised than 
Moor or Jew," 

" throve and multiplied exceedingly, each generation 
inheriting from its predecessor a more irreconcilable 


aversion to settled life, and a deeper hatred of the 
communities which they infested and which spurned 

Although in France an edict was passed about 
1560 for their expulsion, and all governors of cities 
ordered to drive them away with fire and sword, it is 
evident that gipsies made their first appearance in 
this country at a much earlier period. The precise 
date and manner of 


are as prohlematical as their origin. We, however, 
infer from an old work, written by S. Rid, and 
published in 1612 — 'To Expose the art of Juggling 
and Legerdemain/ that the gipsies have been in 
England very nearly four centuries. 

In referring to this race, the author just mentioned 
says : " This kind of people, about a hundred years 
ago, beganne to gather an head, at the first heere, 
about the southerne parts. And this, as I am in- 
formed, and can gather, was their beginning : 
Certain Egyptians, banished their country (belike 
not for their good conditions), arrived heere in 
England, who, for quaint tricks and devices not 
known beere at that time among us, were esteemed 
and had in great admiration ; insomuch that many of 
our English Loyterers joined with them, and in time 
learned their craftie cozening. The speach which 
they used was the right Egyptian speach, with 
whom our Englishmen conversing at last learned 
their language. These people continuing about the 
country, and practising their cozening art, purchased 



themselves great credit among the country people, 
and got much by palmistry and telling fortunes; 
insomuch they pitifully cozened poor country girls, 
both of money, silver spoons, and the best of their 
apparelle, or any good they could make. They had 
a leader of the name of Giles Hather, who was 
termed their King ; and a woman named Calot was 
called Queen. These riding through the streets on 
horseback, and in strange attire, had a pretty traine 
after them." 

Although the above quaint and concise description 
refers to the existence of gipsies, and the practices 
they carried on in England as early as 15 12, it 
throws no light whatever upon the primary, or 
actuating cause of their introduction into Britain. 
We have, however, inferred from various brief 
sketches given in different publications on the 
migrations of gipsies, that some speculating adven- 
turers in London, having heard of the success of 
gipsies in the art of legerdemain and sleight-of-hand 
tricks in France and other countries, went over there 
in search of the most proficient in these arts, and 
that having succeeded in their search several were 
induced to come to London, and subsequently, after 
arrangements were completed, to perform before the 
public. So long as these performances continued a 
novelty the speculation was successful. But when 
they ceased to be so, and the excitement was over, 
and money did not flow into the coffers of these gipsy 
importers as at first, the performers were sent adrift, 
and as a natural result, with their strong and 
intuitive love of and preference for freedom, resumed 
their old wandering habits. 


Soon after the above had taken place other gipsy 
immigrants made their appearance in England, where, 
as on the Continent, they adopted a nomadic life. 
As they were allowed to wander hither and thither, 
and to pitch their tents almost wherever they pleased 
without molestation, and finding that this country 
was in all respects a favourable one to their mode of 
life, and one in which they could successfully ply 
their vocations without fear of severe punishment, 
they had every inducement to send this information 
to their persecuted kindred still living across the 
Channel, and very tempting reasons for inviting 
them over- That they did so seems evident from the 
fact that from the year 1512 to 1530 there was so 
great an influx of gipsies into England that they 
became, not only a prominent, but a formidable 
feature in the country, and numbered at the latter 
date about ten thousand, But the means they 
adopted to obtain a living so arrested the attention 
of local authorities, and finally that of the Govern- 
ment, that laws had to be passed to repress them. 

Scarcely less severe than the measures adopted on the 
Continent to punish these wandering tribes were the 


in the time of Henry VIII,, which described them to 
be ( *an outlandish people, calling themselves Egyp- 
tians, using no craft nor feat of merchandise, who 
have come into this realm, and gone from shire to 
shire and place to place in great company, and used 
great subtle and crafty means to deceive the people, 
Ac, Wherefore they are directed to avoid the realm, 



and not to return under pain of imprisonment, and 
forfeiture of their goods and chattels, and upon their 
trials for any felonies which they have committed' 
they shall not be entitled to a jury de medietate 


It was soon afterwards enacted by statutes 1 and 
2 Philip and Mary and 5th Elizabeth, 44 that if any 
such person be imported into this kingdom, the 
importer shall forfeit £40 ; and if the Egyptians 
themselves remain one month in this kingdom, or if 
any person being fourteen years old (whether natural 
born subject, or stranger), who had been seen in the 
fellowship of such persons, or had disguised himself 
like them, should remain with them one month at 
once, or at several times, it should be felony without 
benefit of the clergy." 

Such were some of the laws in operation against 
the gipsies until a few years before the Restoration, 
when, 44 At one Suffolk Assize," Judge Hale re- 
marks, 44 no less than thirteen gipsies were executed 
upon these Statutes." 

In testimony to the frightful effects of these penal 
enactments, George Borrow states that, 44 Three 
hundred years ago the gibbets of England groaned 
and creaked beneath the weight of gipsy carcases, 
and that many of these miserable creatures were 
obliged to creep into the earth to preserve their 
lives." Happily, however, the above statutes were 
repealed by George III., and gipsies are now punish- 
able only as vagrants under the Vagrant Act. 

It can hardly be said that the abrogation of the 
laws referred to has lessened public antipathy against 
the gipsy race, as the spirit and object of these laws 


are seen, and in a measure carried out, in the treat- 
ment gipsies often receive from those not of their 
own race. It has been known that men without any 
regard either to truth or justice have given false 
evidence against gipsies in order to obtain the 
rewards at one time offered on the conviction of 
those of them who were accused of crime. In proof 
of this, we state on the authority of the late Rev. J. 
Crabb, that some years since one of these vile in- 
formers swore to having seen a gipsy man on a horse 
that had been stolen ; and although it came out on 
the trial that it was night when he observed him, and 
that he had never seen him before, which ought to 
have rendered his evidence invalid, the prisoner was 
convicted and condemned to die. His life was 
afterwards spared by other facts having been dis- 
covered and made known to the judge after he had 
left the city. 

The power with which the Vagrant Act has 
invested officers of the law has sometimes been 
used at the cost of much suffering on the part of 
gipsies of modern times. A police constable can 
now force them, wherever tented (unless it be on 
private property and by permission of the owner), 
at any time to "move on" 

We have been credibly informed that a gipsy 
woman, who had during the day given birth to a 
child in a lane in Gloucestershire, was, with the rest 
of her family, peremptorily ordered by an incon- 
siderate policeman, as late as eleven o*clock on a 
damp, cold night, to "pack up and be off/' These 
poor creatures, being fearful of the consequences of 
refusing to obey the order, packed up their things 


and wandered on until they found a place they 
knew was beyond the limit of his beat. It is, 
however, right to state that the authorities severely 
reprimanded the officer for his hasty and inhuman 

When evidence has failed to criminate those of 
the gipsies who have been charged with crime, they 
have often been punished only for tenting in our 
lanes and other places. According to a Manchester 
newspaper of 1864, seven gipsies at Hale were 
committed for twenty-one days' imprisonment in the 
county gaol, with hard labour, for sleeping under 

There was a time when gipsies, more than now, 
were not only punished for violating our laws, but 
sometimes the penalty was all the heavier simply 
because they were gipsies; in proof of which we 
quote the following painful example from the 
* Gipsies' Advocate,' which states : 

In March, 1827, during the Lent Assizes, the 
author was in Winchester, and wishing to speak 
with the sheriffs chaplain, he went to the Court for 
that purpose. He happened to enter just as the 
judge was passing sentence of death on two unhappy 
men. To one he held out the hope of mercy ; but 
to the other, a poor gipsy, who was convicted for 
horse-stealing, he said no hope could be given. The 
young man — for he was but a youth — immediately 
fell on his knees, and with uplifted hands and eyes, 
apparently unconscious of any persons being present 
but the judge and himself, addressed him as follows : 
" OA, my lord, save my life!" The judge replied, 
" No ; you can have no mercy in this tcorld. 1 and 



my brother judges have come to the determination to 
execute horsestealers^ especially gipsies, because of the 
increase of the crime" The suppliant, still on his 
knees, entreated, M Do, my lord, save my life I Do, 
for God's sake, for my wifes sake, for my babys 
sake I m " No" replied the judge, * I cannot ; you 
should have thought of your wife and children before? 
He then ordered him to be taken away, and the 
poor fellow was rudely dragged from his earthly 

While admitting that our laws, designedly made 
for the good government, safety, and protection of 
the State, should be obeyed, and that those who 
break them deserve punishment, be they gipsies or 
those of our own race, we can recognise no right on 
the part of either law or judge to make a man's 
punishment more severe because of any physical 
peculiarities, or on account of any divergencies in 
his mode of life and habits from those adopted by 
the community at large. We are therefore com- 
pelled to say, that while the gipsies are amongst us, 
and amenable to our laws, they have as great a 
right to the exercise of justice and mercy towards 
them as have the highest born and most refined in 
our land. 

Robert Southey's beautiful lines on "All Men 
Brethren * are singularly appropriate to the remarks 
we have just made, especially the following short 
quotation : 

* 4 Children we are all 
Of one great Father, in whatever clime 
His providence hath cast the aeed of life, 
All tongues, all colours : * * * * 
He the impartial judge of all, regards 



Nations, and hues, and dialects alike. 
According to their works shall they be judged, 
When even handed justice in the scale 
Their good and evil weighs." 

Impelled by a predilection in favour of a wander- 
ing life, as well as by love of unrestrained freedom 
and of adventure, we find that some years after 
their introduction into England 


In referring to ' Hogg's Instructor,* vol. iv., 
new series, page 183, we find an intimation that 
gipsies appeared in England and Scotland at an 
earlier period than the date assumed by us on the 
authority of S. Rid already referred to. We read 
in the above volume that " The era of their (gipsies) 
arrival in this country is marked by a singular 
document still preserved. It is a letter from 
James IV. to his uncle the King of Denmark, in 
favour of Anthony Gawine, earl of little Egypt, and 
his followers. This letter is dated 1506, not many 
years, it maybe presumed, after the first colonies had 
found their way from France through England. 

" His Majesty states that this miserable train had 
visited Scotland, by command of the Pope, being 
upon a pilgrimage ; that they had conducted them- 
selves properly, and that they now wished to go 
to Denmark. He accordingly solicits his uncle's 
protection and kindness in their favour, adding that 
as they are wandering Egyptians, they must be 
better known to his Danish Majesty than to himself, 
as the kingdom of Egypt was nearer to him ! A 


statement which shows that James IV. was not the 
most accurate in Iris notions of geography. 

4f Whether the 1 miserable train/ under Anthony 
G a wine were all who had reached Scotland at this 
time is not known, although we may presume so 
from the terms of the document. They seem, 
however, to have been followed, not many years 
subsequently, by another and more numerous party. 

u This appears from a letter under the privy seal, 
by King James V 4 , iij favour of * Johimc Faw, lord 
and erle of little Egypt,* dated Feb, 15, 1540. 
This curious document throws considerable light on 
the pretensions — for they were probably no more 
than mere pretensions — of the gipsies on their first 
coming to Scotland. Still maintaining the assump- 
tion that they were pilgrims, * Johnne Faw, lord and 
erle of little Egypt,' complains to his majesty that 
notwithstanding the letters he had previously ob- 
tained under the great seal, to assist him *in 
executioune of justice vpoun his cumpany and folkis, 
conforme to the lawis of Egypt, and in punissing of 
all thai in that rebellis again s him,' part of his clan 
* under Sebastiane Lalow, Egiptiane,' had altogether 
removed themselves from his company, taking with 
him * diverse soumes of money, jewellis, clathis, and 
ntheris gudis, to the quantite of ane grete soume of 
money,* and refused to pass home with him again to 
their own country, although Sebastiane Lalow had 
given his bond to that effect, and he (John Faw) 
was * binding and oblist to bring bame with him all 
thame of his company that ar on live, and ane 
testimoniale of thame that ar dcid. 1 

"The letter of the king therefore directed all 



sheriffs and magistrates to assist the said 'Johnne 
Faw, lord and erle of little Egypt/ in compelling the 
refractory party to join his company, notwithstand- 
ing that Sebastiane Lalow, had, by ' fals relation and 
circumventioun,' purchased writings some time before 
from his majesty, discharging him and his abettors 
from Faw's company. Faw represented that he had 
remained a long time in this country, waiting on the 
refractory members of his company, and that he 
incurred the risk of * hevy dampnage and skaithe,' 
and 'tynsall of his heritage.' The same letter 
charged all authorities not to molest, vex, or trouble 
the said John Faw and his company in doing their 
lawful business. 

"The following year (June 6, 1541) there is an 
Act of the Lords of Council, referring to the dispute 
between Faw and his rebellious subjects, which 
dispute had occasioned considerable disturbance, 
others taking part in the quarrel who had no 
connection with the clan. By this document it 
appears that the contending factions had mutually 
agreed 'to passe hame, and to have the samyn 
(the quarrel) decydit before the duke of Egipt/ 
From the terms of the Act it is evident that the lord 
and erle of little Egypt had greatly fallen in the 
estimation of the council, and that they were glad at 
the prospect of getting quit of him and his company. 

"That these representations were falsehoods, in- 
vented to interest the crowned heads of the countries 
in which they sojourned, can scarcely be doubted. 
Indeed, it does not appear that Faw and his 
company ever left Scotland. In 1554, 4 Andro Faw 
captiane of the Egiptianes,' and twelve of his gang, 


obtained a remission for the 4 Slauchter of Niniane 
Smaill, comittit within the toune of Lyntoune, in 
the month of March last hypast, vpoun suddantie/ 
This ' Andro Faw * was in all likelihood the son and 
successor of the lord and erle of little Egypt ; and 
the Faws have ever since been considered the heads 
of the gipsy tribes of Scotland . It was 1 Johnie 
Faa,' and his 1 fifteen weel-made men/ who accord- 
ing to the ballad, carried away the countess of 
Cassillis : — 

** 1 come with me,* eaye Johnie Faa ; 

1 come with me, my dearie ; 
For I tow and I swear by the hilt of my sword, 
That your lord shall nae mair oomc near ye/ 

No proper data has yet been discovered for fixing 
the precise era of the ballad of * Johnie Faa/ there- 
fore the hero of it cannot be identified with any of 
the chiefs or captains of the Fans whose names have 
been recorded." 

It is evident from what has been stated above that 
the gipsies had fallen into great disfavour with the 
Government of Scotland, who, on account of their 
lawless conduct, was compelled to pass an Act for the 
banishment of the whole race at thirty days 1 warn- 
ing, and under the pain of death. Instead* however, 
of leaving the country, the gipsies sought refuge 
among its mountains, in its glens, fastnesses, and 
remoter districts. Their numbers increased, and as 
time rolled on, the)' became so daring and defiant 
that at length neither life nor property was safe* 

Aided by bands of beggars, who were led on by 
the gipsies, the poor and the rich were alike 
plundered by them, and in a few years they became 

B 2 



such a terror in nearly every part of Scotland, that 
in 1603, and confirmed again in 1609, the lords of 
the Privy Council issued a proclamation for the 
expatriation of the whole race from Scotland for 
ever, under the severest penalties. 

This law commanded the "vagabonds, sorcerers, 
and commonly called Egyptians, to pass forth out of 
the realm, and never to return to the same under 
pain of death." The same law empowered any of 
his majesty's subjects to apprehend and execute 
them " as notorious and condemned thieves." " In 
1611, four Faws were hanged as Egyptians; in July 
1616, two persons of the name of Faw, and another 
called Bail lie, met the same fate ; so did John Faw 
and seven of his gang (five of whom were Faas), in 
January, 1624. A few days afterwards Helen Faa, 
relict of the Captain Lucretia Faw, and other women, 
to the number of eleven, were convicted as Egyptians, 
and condemned to be drowned." 

In Woodcock's * Gipsies, History, Customs, &c.,' 
it is stated that " in 1636 an Act was issued, empower- 
ing the Sheriff of Haddington to pronounce sentence 
of death against as many of the gipsies as were men, 
and against as many of the women as had no 
children. The men were to be hanged and the 
women drowned, and such of the women as had 
children were to be scourged and burnt on the 

The severity of these laws not only failed to ex- 
tirpate the gipsies, but induced some of the landed 
gentry to extend to them all the protection in their 
power. For example, in 1615, William Auchterlony, 
of Cayrnie, obtained a remission for resetting of John 


Faw and his followers* From the da tea we have 
given to the present time Scotland has always had 
its gipsies, the principal families of whom, including 
the Faas, are settled in Yetholm* 

The preservation of the gipsies as a distinct race, 
and living so in nearly all the countries in the 
world, is a marvellous phenomenon. Kings have 
been deposed, and their thrones have tumbled down; 
empires have been convulsed; social, political, and 
religious revolutions have shaken the world to its 
centre ; wars have devastated the fairest regions of 
the earth ; sanguinary laws, as we have shown, have 
been enacted against the gipsies, who have been 
imprisoned, transported, branded, burnt, and hanged, 
many at a time ; but in spite of all these things, 
and the thousands of persecutions and prosecutions 
to which they have been subjected, still live the 
same wandering race, retaining, aa clearly and pro- 
minently as of old, their distinctive character, not 
only in their physical conformation, but in their 
language, dress, habits, manners and customs. Truly 
it may be said that the gipsies, though 

* Mixed with every race, arc lost in none/* 



Sylveator Boswell, a learned gipsy— His explanations of the 
gipsy language — Smart and Crof ton's gipsy vocabulary — 
English and gipsy words denoting human relationship — 
Parte of human and animal bodies — Wearing apparel — 
Furniture, food and drink - ISuil. lings of various kinds — 
Quadrupeds, birds, and insects— Titles of office and employ* 
ment— Money — The works of nature — The seasons, division 
of time— Words used by the Scottish gipsies — Paragraph 
specimens of the gipsy dialect — Popular gipsy proverbs- — 
The Lord's prayer in the gipsy dialect. 

M They have been at a great feast of language*. 
And stolen the scraps.*' 


Having stated in a previous chapter that the ex- 
istence of so many Hindostanee words in the gipsy 



dialect is presumptive evidence in favour of the 
eastern origin of the gipsies, and having also inti- 
mated that the use of this dialect by them throughout 
the world affords strong proof that the gipsies are as 
distiuct a confederation and race as are those of the 
different nations among whom they live, we need 
not be surprised that this people have a language of 
their own, which is used by them when and wherever 
they happen to meet. 

This dialect may be regarded as the link or chain 
which, in a great measure, binds them together in 
mutual interest, sympathy, and the bond of brother- 
hood, and it is also certain that without it the 
gipsies would soon become more isolated than they 
now are, and so fragmentary that their means of 
identifying each other as members of the same part 
of the great human family would be very considerably 

This dialect, as spoken by them everywhere, is no 
doubt one of the great conserving powers which 
keeps tbem together as a race. 

Considering that the gipsies in England and of 
other countries have had their own dialect for so 
long a period, it is surprising that philologists have 
not directed their attention to it more than they 
have done, which neglect has not unlikely arisen 
from an idea very prevalent, that it was only mere 
gibberish or jargon, and therefore not worthy either 
of their time or study. 

As the dialect of the gipsies naturally suggests 
itself as being the next point of interest to that of 
their migrations, and the persecutions already 
mentioned, we shall give in this chapter several 



specimens of it, with their meanings in English. 
Many of these will be words and sentences gleaned 
by us at different times in our interviews with some 
of the most intelligent English gipsies. We must, 
however, acknowledge our indebtedness to a work 
entitled * The Dialect of the English Gipsies,' written 
by Smart and Crofton, who have evidently bestowed 
great pains in collecting and throwing together in so 
intelligible a form such a mass of interesting and 
useful information on this difficult subject. 

It is manifest from the introduction to the above 
work that the authors just mentioned obtained 
much information respecting the gipsy dialect from 
Sylvester Boswell, a gipsy well known to us, and 
with whom we have had many interesting conversa- 
tions. As we are able to corroborate much, if not 
all, they say about this gipsy man, we shall now 
give a quotation from the work of the authors re- 
ferred to. 

" We have met with no gipsy anywhere who can 
be compared with our friend Sylvester Boswell for 
purity of speech and idiomatic style. No 4 posh and 
posh mumper ' is he, but a genuine specimen of a 
fine old * Romani Chal ' — a regular blue-blooded 
hidalgo — his father a Boswell, his mother a Heme, 
his pedigree unstained by base 'gaujo' admixture. 
We have been specially indebted to him both for 
his willingness to impart information, and for the 
intelligence which has enabled him satisfactorily to 
elucidate several doubtful points in the language. 
We mention his name here with emphasis because 
he himself wishes for some public acknowledgment 
of his services, and because we have pleasure in 



claiming for him a ' double first ' in classical honours* 
as a Romanes scholar of the ( deepest 1 dye, 

" Sylvester habitually uses in his conversation what 
he calls the * double inflected) words,' and 

prides himself on so doing. He declares that he 
speaks just like his father and mother did before 
him, but that many of the younger folk around him 
do not understand him when he uses the old forms 
current in his early days* According to him, those 
degenerate scions of an ancient stock only speak the 
'dead (Le., uninflected) words/ and say, when at a 
loss for an expression, 'Go to Wester, he speaks 
dictionary/ He affirms that none can use the double 
words like some of the Hemes and Boswells ; that 
most of the old-fashioned 1 Romani Chals ' are either 
dead, or have left England for America or elsewhere ; 
but that nevertheless some few remain scattered over 
the country, though even they have lost and forgotten 
a great deal through constant intercourse with other 
gipsies who only speak the broken dialect. To tell 
the truth, Wester himself occasionally lapses from 
bis lofty pedestal, and we have noticed from his lips 
examples of very dog-Romanes, He would, however, 
recover himself from these slips, and arrest our 
reporting pencil in mid career with 4 Stop, don't put 
that down ! * and after thinking for a moment, would 
tell us the same thing in 'deep f Romanes, or even 
find on further reflection 'in the lowest deep a 
deeper still/ 

(l There are several dialects of the Anglo Romanes ; 
Sylvester Boswell recounts six: 1st, that spoken by 
the New Forest gipsies, having Hampshire for its 
head quarters; 2nd, the South-Eastern, including 



Kent and the neighbourhood ; 3rd, the Metropolitan, 
that of London and its environs; 4th, the East 
Anglican, extending over Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambs, 
Lincolnshire, Northampton, and Leicestershire ; 5th, 
that spoken in the 4 korlo-tem,' or Black Country, 
having Birmingham for its capital ; 6th, the North- 
ern. We do not altogether agree with this classifi- 
cation, but it is interesting as a gipsy's own, and we 
give it for what it is worth. 

" In addition there is the Kirk Yetholm, or Scotch 
gipsy dialect, which is very corrupt, and anything 
but copious. Lastly, there is the Welsh gipsy 
dialect, spoken by the Woods, Williamses, Joneses, 
&c, but who mix Romani words with * Lavenes/ i.e+ 
the language of the Principality. 

" For practical purposes, the English gipsy tongue 
may be conveniently considered as consisting of two 
great divisions, viz. : — 

" 1st. The common wide-spread corrupt dialect* . . . 
containing but few inflections, and mixed to a greater 
or less extent with English, and conforming to the 
English method in the arrangement of the sentences. 
This is the vulgar tongue in every-day use by 
ordinary gipsies. 

" 2nd. The 4 Deep ' or old dialect, known only to a 
few aged gipsies, which contains many inflections 
and idioms; which has its own 'ordo verborum;' 
which closely resembles the principal Continental 
gipsy dialects, . . . and which contains a minimum 
admixture of English words. This last ... is par 
excellence the gipsy language, of which the first is 
merely the corruption. " 

Although much more is said on this subject by 



Smart and Crofton, we will close this long quotation 
by adding that, * At all events, it is now a fact that 
certain gipsy families speak their own language 
better than others ; and words and idiomatic expres- 
sions habitually used in one tent may never be heard 
in another.** 

Without attempting to trace the origin of the 
gipsy dialect, or to give our explanation of its con- 
struction and derivation, we shall now give, in 
English, the names of some objects in nature, and 
those of other things familiar to almost everybody, 
and commonly used in our domestic, commercial, and 
every-day life ; and we shall also give those words of 
the gipsy dialect the meanings of which correspond 
with our own, 

Taking as our authority Smart and Crofton's 
11 English-Gipsy Vocabulary," we have endeavoured 
to classify different objects in a way we think the 
moot likely to be interesting to our readers. As 
man is supposed to have pre-eminence in all things, 
we shall in the first place refer to the 

Names DEtforora Human Relationship. 














Son, lad, 














Chavi, pi. 
Stifo Dad. 
Stiff Dei. 

Parts of Human and Animal Bodies. 











Month, face, 









Danyaw, pi. 





















Finger Nail, 


Wearing Apparel, etc. 


Woman's clothing, 
Shoe, boot, 

Gown, frock, 

Joovioko Stardi. 
Joovni kolo. 
Iloolivas, pi. 
Chok, ch6ka. 

Bauro Di'klo. 





Knee breeches, 


























Furniture, Food, Drink, etc. 













Bellows, • 







Tatto paani. 




Kil Mauro. 



Broom, brush, 

Yooserin g-Eosht. 








Pee>i Eekary. 








Peerestro E6ppa. 








Lalo Eoovaw. 








An gar* 


x ODengro. 



x la DtJD. 



E gg» 


£ eatner-Dea, 

P6rongo wo6dms. 

JC 1TB, 

lag, or xog. 

JPOOG., 6fttftD10B, 

no Den. 


PAanm oti ctta 

"Prvi n tr-PAn 
•*■ * j xug x «*xi, 

Tatter M6nirri 

-ft. ca I; UlOUItllt 

hi mm a 

TCflrft or TC£ri 




TjOaT or nrAAfi 

Ch61a Mauro. 

T/iiflifivr MAtch 

JJ UVllvl til CT l^/Al f 

T)£l om 6n cto. 

1/VlUUIVUKl v» 






Onion lofvk 



PAnAtn ti a 

x ouoinuo* 



.ft-*VUt UlN 

S or a fvl 



x oovengrx. 


JJXUIUIllUliacl U. 










Tatto paani. 
















Hov, or Kev. 


Mol, or Mul. 

Wood, Stick, 




Buildings of Various Kinds. 




Dfvio kair. 


















Baval p6gamengri. 

Quadrupeds, Birds, and Insects. 








Kaulo ch6riklo. 


Mooskono baulo. 










Herengro Matcho. 


Kaulo ch6riklo. 










Pooshamer pisham. 






Tarno grei. 








Kanen gri-j o6kel. 


Atch-pauli kanni. 

























Mo6shkeni-groo vni . 


K6kering cheriklo. 


Bauro cheriklo. 










Bouri bauri. 




Porna rauni. 







Titles of Office and 



Mormen gro. 


M6ngam6u gro. 


















Sh6rokno gairo. 



Queen, and King, 

Eralise, and Kralisi. 

















Eori, or hori. 







Two shillings, 




Five shillings, 


Half sovereign, 

Posh bar. 

Sovereign (£l ) 


Five pound note, 


The Works of Nature. 








Doo voles to-Chairos. 


















Bauro bishno. 


Iv, or hiv. 





The Seasons, Division of Time, etc. 

Spring, First-adair olilci. 

Summer, heat, Tattoben. 

Autumn, Palla lilei. 

Winter, Ven. 

Year, Bcsh. 

Month, Shoon. 

Week, Ko6roki. 

Day, Divvus. 









4 Ora, y6ro. 

Cold day, 

Shil di'vvu8. 

Hot day, 

Tatto di'vvus. 


Kooroki di'vvus. 


Yek dfwus. 


Dooi divvus. 


Trin divvus. 


Stor di'vvus. 


Pansh divvus. 


divvus' glal kooroko. 

Wni»iw i'<i< 

i'H HV Tllli* K*\lTTI<ilf f » 1 1*51 












Baurio riah. 


Baurie raunie. 


Been riah. 

A man, 


Horse dealer, 

Grye feml«*r. 


Nais gaugio. 


Nais nort. 



Gipsies, tinkers, 




We may now observe that it is exceedingly- 
difficult to obtain anything like thoroughly correct 
information from the gipsies respecting their own 
dialect, especially as relates to the orthography of 
it. As they have neither records, lexicons, nor a 
grammar as written and compiled by themselves, 
and as they have never, in England, to our know- 
ledge, adopted any plan, or made any systematic 
effort to teach their children this dialect fully and 


properly, it is reasonable to suppose that, as oral 
instruction is uncertain, very often gipsies will 
pronounce what they understand to be the same 
word differently, which renders it difficult for those 
who wish to acquire a knowledge of the gipsy 
language to have one uniform way of spelling it. 
Of this we may give the following example in the 
use of the gipsy word meaning 81 good : N one gipsy 
pronounced and spelt it to us as "cnshty" another as 
" cushgow" the third as u cashgar" and the last as 
*eushttnr" The reader need not therefore be sur- 
prised if in the few more specimens of the gipsy 
dialect we are about to add he should discover 
similar diflerences between them and those we have 
already quoted. 

Although it is not necessary to explain all the 
particular circumstances under which the following 
sentences in the gipsy dialect were uttered, we may 
observe that the first has reference to a visit a friend 
once paid to a gipsy encampment, where he arrived 
just as an old gipsy woman was preparing dinner for 
some members of the tribe she was expecting shortly 
to return. A gipsy girl, who appeared to he acting 
in the capacity of kitchen-maid, turning to the aged 
cook, said to her in the 

Gipsy dialect^ u Muk us pukhar the Uei to holl a 
crumer of hauben, grandi/' that is, in 

English^ Let us ask the gentleman to eat a bit of 
victuals, grandmother. 

On one occasion an artist was taking a sketch of 
the face of a pretty gipsy child, to whom her mother 
angrily said in her own language, 

41 How dare you let a gorgia ehiv you adri his 

F 2 


HI to chore the ralit of your mui ? " by which she 

How dare you let a man put you in his book to 
steal the blood from your face ? 

We were once holding a little conversation with a 
gipsy man named Lee, near an orchard. The ripe 
fruit hanging from some of the trees attracted his 
notice, and looking intently at it he jocosely said to 
us in Romanes, 

" My cushty musho, let us jallel some pobbers off 
the rook," which simply means, 

My good man, let us get some apples off the 

Whenever gipsies see valuable articles of any kind, 
it is almost invariably sufficient to arrest their atten- 
tion and to arouse their cupidity. A gipsy girl 
once said to us, 

" My cushty Rei, I will say parakor tut if you 
will delmande a rinkno horo wericle or a sonnikey 
jamgustrie," meaning, 

My good gentleman, I will say thank you if 
you will give me a pretty watch-chain or a gold 

If any one in conversation with country gipsies 
should happen to express surprise that they, as a 
people, should prefer tents, vans, lanes, and commons 
to comfortable houses, as living and sleeping places, 
the .answer in all probability would be, if given in 
the gipsy dialect, 

" The kair is cushtow for the kairingro," i.e., 

The house is good for the house-dweller. 

We shall now add a few more specimens of this 
dialect, given in the following 



11 A chirriklo adri the vast is worth dui adri the 

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush or 

4C Never kin a pong 1 dishler nor lei a romni by 
nomeli dood," 

Never buy a handkerchief nor choose a wife by 

u Del sor mush a sigaben to kair his jivoben." 

Give every man a chance to make his living. 

44 It's sar to a choomer, kushti for kek till it's 
pordered atween dui/' 

Its like a kiss, good for nothing until it is divided 
between two. 

"A cloudy sala often purabens to a fino divvus." 

A cloudy morning often changes to a fine day. 

" Pule the wafedo boksh jals the cushty boksh/' 

Behind bad luck conies good luck. 

4 *To dik a puro-pal is as cammoben as a cushty 

To see an old friend is as agreeable as a good 

44 The koomi foki the tacho." 
The more the merrier. 

44 He's too boot of a mush to rokker a pauveri 

He's too proud to speak to a poor child. 

We may now quote, as an interesting termination 

to this chapter^ from Sorrow's 1 Bible in Spain 1 

the following — 




" Moro Dad, savo djious oteh drey o charos, te 
caumen Gorgia ta Romany chal tiro nav, te awel tiro 
tern, te Kairen tiro lav aukko prey puv, sar Kair- 
dios oteh drey o charos. Dey men to-divvus moro 
divvuskoe moro, ta for-dey men pazorrhus tukey sar 
men for-denna len pazorrhus amande; ma muk te 
pretenna drey caik temptacionos ; ley men abri sor 
doschder. Tiro se o tern, Mi duvel, tiro o zoozlu 
vast, tiro sor koskopen drey sor cheros, Avali. 


" Our Father, who dwellest there in the heaven, 
may Gentile and Gipsy love thy name, thy kingdom 
come, may they do thy word here on earth, as it is 
done there in the heaven. Give us to-day our daily 
bread, and forgive us indebted to thee as we forgive 
them indebted to us, suffer not that we fall into no 
temptation, take us out from all evil. Thine is the 
kingdom my God, thine the strong hand, thine all 
goodness in all time, Aye. Truth." 





The most common names of the gipsies — The most ancient 
gipsy families — Romantic and uncommon names of gipsy 
girls — Origin of gipsy surnames — Pride in high blood — Old 
Jowles, the Somersetshire king of the gipsies— Stephens — The 
Care ws— Foreign names of gipsies— Adoption by writers 
and actors of other names of common occurrence — The origin 
of many of our own family names. 

n And if kia name be George, I'll call him Peter; 
Fur new made honour doth forget men's names." 




" Then gently scan your brother man, 
Still gentler, sister woman ; 
Though they may gang a 4 kennin ' wrang, 

To step aside is human." Burns. 

How it is that the gipsy nomads of this country 
are known by so many English surnames is one of 
the many perplexing questions which may be asked 
respecting them. Considering that gipsies are so 
exclusive both in their notions and habits, and 
having, we think, advanced strong proofs that their 
ancestors were originally from Hindostan, the fact 
that nearly all gipsy names are common among 
ourselves in every part of Great Britain and Ireland 
is surprising and remarkable. 

The following are some of the surnames by which 
the gipsies are known, viz. : Baker, Baillie, Barring- 
ton, Blewitt, Bosvill, Boswell, Broadway, Buckland, 
Buckley, Burnett, Carew, Carter, Chilcott, Cooper, 
Comne, Davis, Draper, Eyres. Faa, Fletcher, Glover, 
Greenwood, Hearne, Jowles, Jones, Lee, Light, Locke, 
Lovell, Loversedge, Mansfield, Martin, Plunkitt, Riley* 
Scamp, Smith, Stanley, Stephens, Stokes, and Young. 

The numbers belonging respectively to each name 
as given above vary very considerably. The Smiths 
are numerous, and of the Stanleys there are about 
two hundred in number. 

Sylvester Boswell, to whom we have referred in 
the last chapter, and whom we consider to be, because 
of his intelligence, experience and mature age, the 
best and most reliable authority amongst the gipsies 
in matters relating to the history and other things 
connected with his own people, once said to us that, 
" The most ancient and purest families of gipsies in 


this country are the Lees, Lovelts, Stanley,?, Drapers^ 
Coopers, Bucktands, Chilcotts and Boswells" and he 
added that the Locks, who are numerous in Glouces- 
tershire, are the descendants of Welsh gipsies. 

Gipsy mothers seem to possess an unconquerable 
partiality to Christian names for their daughters 
much more uncommon than are their surnames. The 
following are some of them : Alamena, Britannia^ 
Calinda, Clarissa, Clementina, Cieiti/, Dorah, 
Eccrinda, Eunice, Eve, Johanna, Lavinia, Lepronia, 
Lilly, Linda, Luchula, Mag; fie, Madora, Naomi, 
Rhoda, Rosa, Temperance, Zillah, Keziah, and 

If it be true that our ideas and actions take their 
complexion from our daily associations and sur- 
rounding influences, it is specially so in the case of 
the gipsies, whose preference for uncommon names 
seems to correspond with the strange and romantic 
life most of them lead. 

Assuming the theory that the gipsy people are of 
Hindoo Sudra extraction to be correct, it is natural 
to suppose that their forefathers would, on leaving 
India, bring with them, and retain for a time at 
least, the names by which they were known in 
- their native country. 

The question therefore arises, if the above 
theory, or any other which traces their origin to a 
different and remote country be true, how is it 
that the gipsies are known by surnames almost 
universally prevailing amongst our own people? 
We are not aware that any writer on the gipsies, 
or any ethnologist or philologist, has ever at- 
tempted to solve this problem. We shall, however, 



refer to a few causes which may probably throw 
some light upon this subject. 

The fact that the before mentioned and other 
English surnames being common among the gipsies 
has been adduced as an argument against the 
foreign origin of this people ; and some persons 
have asserted that this use of our surnames by the 
gipsies favours the opinion that these nomads are as 
much British both by descent and birth as are other 
natives of this island ; the latter being the children 
of civilized parents, the former those of wandering 
hordes of men and women who from time im- 
memorial have infested this country; and that the 
difference in physical peculiarities existing between 
them and ourselves arises mainly from the gipsies' 
rude manner of life, their constant exposure to the 
extremes of heat and cold, and the many variations 
of weather so common in our climate. 

This notion is no doubt owing to the circum- 
stance that in all countries tribes of men are to be 
found whose habits correspond with those of English 
gipsies, but who, though differing in many respects 
from the civilized portion of the community, can 
nevertheless rightfully claim to be the offspring of 
the same, or of collateral progenitors. 

Admitting the above idea to be correct as applied 
to the tribes of men referred to, yet as regards the 
gipsy race a great difficulty arises. How are we to 
account for English gipsies, and those in other parts 
of the world, speaking, as we have shown, a distinct 
dialect, nearly one-half of which consists of pure Hin- 
dostanee words, or words resembling that language ? 

The gipsies as a race have never in any country 


cultivated an acquaintance with letters. They know 
little of science, or art, and are almost in total 
ignorance of their bygone history. The little they 
know of it is merely of a traditional character, very 
hazy, and therefore neither explicit nor certain, 
This being the case, the most likely way of account- 
ing for the use of this dialect by the gipsies is, that 
their forefathers must at some period, remote it may be, 
have lived in the country a portion of whose language 
modern gipsies retain among them. This argument 
derives support from the physical features, manners, 
customs and habits of the gipsies strongly indicating 
their eastern origin, and in no way favouring the 
notion that they are of the same race as ourselves. 

In a review of the 4 Word-book of the Romany/ 
which appeared in one of the London evening news- 
papers, occur the following statements, having 
reference to the reasons why gipsies are known by 
so many of our surnames. It says: "Another link 
which connects the gipsies with the Egyptians of old 
is the duplicate names they possess, eacli tribe or 
family having a public and a private name ; one by 
which they are known to the Gentiles and another 
to themselves alone. The public names are quite 
English. From pride in high blood they have 
adopted as public names the most aristocratic of 
English family names, such as the Stanleys, the 
Greys, and the Marshalls." 


is not a sufficient reason, at least not the only 
one, why the gipsies have taken English names, 


because many of their tribes are known by names 
common among the artisan and even the poorer classes 
of our race. If, as stated above, the gipsies have 
u duplicate names," it is in favour of the theory 
that this people are of foreign extraction, and not 

For the adoption, by gipsies, of English surnames 
we think the following reasons may be assigned. It 
is remarkable that although the gipsies' strange 
mode of life exposes them to many hardships and 
inconveniences from which a domestic and more 
settled life would screen them, they have always 
attached a sacredness to their separatedness from 
other people, and have done all in their power to 
perpetuate their isolation, and, as far as possible, 
to transmit from generation to generation the 
spirit, disposition, and blood of their predeces- 
sors, and to retain a pure consanguinity to each 

But although their efforts to do so have been 
marvellously successful, they have not always proved 
adequate barriers against intruders into their frater- 
nity. There have been instances in which men not 
of gipsy birth, but who, possessing the same wander- 
ing proclivities and love of a wild, loose life as 
gipsies do, have, through professions of attachment 
to gipsy girls, won their affections and married them; 
gained admission among their people, and in the 
course of time have been tolerated and recognised as 
members of this despised race. The objections of 
the gipsies to alliances of this kind are, however, so 
strong that years have sometimes passed away before 
they have become thoroughly reconciled to those of 


their own girls who have by such marriages violated 
one of their most stringent laws. 

When gipsy women marry our men they of course 
take their names, which may account to some extent 
for many English surnames being used by men 
considered to be gipsies. The children of bucIi 
parents, however, in the majority of case* 2 , marry 
those members of the gipsy tribes who are of 
purer gipsy blood than themselves, so that in a 
generation or two their offspring present all those 
physical features by which genuine gipsies are so 

The history and family of Isaac Jowles, who was 
known in Somersetshire as "king of the gipsies/ 1 
furnish a proof of the correctness of the foregoing 
statements, Jowles was a native of a village in 
Wiltshire, and followed the occupation of a stone- 
mason ; but he was not gipsy-born. Having had, 
when a young man, an unpleasant dispute with his 
family about some property, he left home, and was 
not heard of for many years. He married a gipsy 
woman, by whom he had two daughters, well known 
to ua When these girls were young their features 
were very beautiful ; their gipsy characteristics 
were, however, decidedly predominant, In due 
time they married gipsy men, and had children by 
them, between whom and the purest offspring of the 
gipsy race it would have been difficult to detect any 
physiological difference. 

Many years since a man named Stephens, a native 
of Gloucestershire, and the son of parents belonging 
to our own race, married a daughter of old Myrick 
jocke, the reputed ' 4 king of the gipsies" of the 



above county. Stephens lived to be an old man, 
and left behind him several sons and grandsons, so 
that it is not unlikely his name may become very 
common among the gipsy tribes of this country. 
These sons having married gipsy women, their 
offspring present the same physical, mental, and 
moral characteristics as those do who have descended 
from old Isaac Jowles. 

Amongst English gipsies are several members 
named Carew, who are the descendants of the 
notorious Bamfylde Moore-Carew, who, although the 
son of a clergyman, left his home and joined 
the gipsies, with whom he remained some years. 
The Carews referred to, having so much inter- 
mingled with genuine gipsies, present in a very 
marked manner the same singular features as other 
gipsy nomads do. It appears, so far, tolerably cer- 
tain that these intermarriages and others will in a 
measure account for some of our surnames being 
common among the gipsies. 

Another reason that may be assigned for this use 
of our surnames by gipsies may be found in the 
account we have given in the third chapter of the 
persecutions to which these people have been subjected. 
At no period of their history have gipsies been free 
from persecution. Whether they are alone to blame 
for this, and the miseries they have endured in all 
countries and for many ages, is not the question 
which at present concerns us. It is enough to know 
that their bygone history contains many black 
dots of destiny, and is marked by much suffering 
inflicted by the authority of the laws of those 
countries in which they have wandered. 


What are, we would ask, some of the results of 
persecution, particularly on those who have no good 
moral principles or education to guide and control 
them ? We answer, frequently to make them ingeni- 
ously wicked and crafty, and to induce them to use 
every available means to lessen and to ward off the 
cause of their miseries. If a master were to treat his 
men as if they were only mere machines to do his 
work, or if he were to undervalue their services, or 
to grind them down by the mill-stones of tyranny 
and oppression, he would very likely in many cases 
convert them into unwilling and, perhaps, dishonest 
servants, who would be careless of his interests, and 
would try, in some way or other, to be avenged on 
him for his unkind treatment towards them. 

It is not the cold north wind, but the genial breeze 
from the sunny south which causes the rose-bud to 
open ite petals and to display its beauties. And we 
may say with equal truth that it is not persecution, 
nor severe measures, but gentleness, fair dealing, and 
liberal kindly actions which encourage men to be 
willingly obedient, honest, loyal and just, and which 
help to nourish and develop the better feelings of 
their hearts. 

The life, conduct, and experiences of the gipsies 
form no exception to the results we have mentioned. 
If these wanderers or outcasts from India brought 
with them 


and used them for a time, those names, no doubt, 
made them very distinguishable from other men, 
whose curiosity would be axcited whenever they 


heard those Dames pronounced, and in all probability \ 
helped to facilitate every effort made for the appre- f 
hension of gipsies suspected or accused of having 1 
broken our laws. 1 

Whenever the singular names and physical peculi- 1 
arities of the gipsies, differing so much from our own , 
were referred to, there would be no difficulty, either i» 
knowing who were alluded to, or in singling ther«3 
out from the multitude among whom they temporarily^ 
mingled. We need not therefore wonder that, und^ ^ 
these circumstances, the gipsies should adopt any pla*^ 1 
to lull suspicion against them, and to remove at lea^- 1 
one cause of their unceasing sufferings. Is it no^^ 
reasonable to suppose that they might consider th^^ 
adoption of English surnames to be the most likelj*^ 
means of obscuring their identity and of producing^" 
the results we have pointed out ? 

The mention of the names of Smith, Cooper, Davis^ 
Jones, Baker, &c, would be less likely to directs 
public attention to the gipsies than would the^ 
mention of foreign names. These gipsy nomads 
would therefore be less noticed, and so mighfc 
escape some of the troubles which the asperity of 
the public had created for them. 

The probability that the persecutions to which 
gipsies were formerly exposed and endured originated 
the idea of this adoption of English names is 
greatly increased by gipsies as a rule disclaiming 
the name applied to them as a people. Even now 
they are aware that the word " gipsy " is unpopular 
with others, and that the mention of it strengthens 
the prejudice existing against their race. They know 
they are generally denounced as " a bad lot," which 


unfortunately they allow to widen the breach between 
them and ourselves, and do not hesitate to assign 
this as one reason why they perpetuate their wander- 
ing, isolated life. 

Whether the gipsies have or have not derived from 
this assumption of English surnames the benefits they 
wished to do, we know not, Be this as it may, it SQ 
no degree affects the theory of their foreign extrac- 
tion, or that they area separate and marvellous race, 
as much so even as the Jews themselves. 

There may be some persons who, though admitting 
the truth of what we have stated, regard this adoption 
of our surnames as an incontrovertible proof of the 
vagabondish and crafty character of the gipsy race ; 

d as a justifiable reason why efforts should be made, 
if not to exterminate them, yet to punish them as 
ju sts and as a disgrace to civilized society. But 
much care is necessary in using these sweeping 
denunciations against the gipsy people, or we may 
'nvolve in them other human beings who have higher 
pretensions to civilization, education, and refinement 
than the gipsies ever aspired to. 

The custom of using other names besides those 
given to men at the rite of baptism, and for pur- 
poses we do not care to inquire into, is of ancient 
date, and also very common. Many writers of 
articles for magazines and newspapers append, not 
their legitimate names, but others by which only 
they prefer to be known to the public. Thus we 
have " Boz" " Iota," " Caustic," " Littlejohn," 
"Gracchus," "Anglo-Indian," "Crowquill," "Silver- 
pen," "Ouida," "Marturia," and a host of others. 
Some writers use the initials of their names only. 


Lecturers often adopt other names beside their own. 
To wit, a social, political, and would-be religious 
reformer 6ome time since announced himself as 
" Iconoclast ;" another lecturer, who advocated the 
theory that the " earth is a circular plane," styled 
himself " Parallax." All kinds of aliases have been 
used by dishonest men in order to evade detection 
and punishment by the law. A notorious fortune- 
teller (not a gipsy), whose proper name was a 
common one, was known in Paddington not long 
since as " Zendevesta and we can well remember 
that the late Louis Philippe when escaping from 
France tried to pass himself off as plain " Mr. Smith." 
Even in the Church and religious houses the same 
custom prevails ; nuns receive new names ; and a cer- 
tain clergyman pleases to designate himself as" Father 
Ignatius ; " and as common as are roses in June, so 
is it for theatrical performers to take what they call 
" professional names." As before intimated, we have 
nothing to do with the motives which actuate men 
and women in assuming other names, neither do we 
blame them for so doing; our object in what we 
have stated is to show that this practice is not 
peculiar to the gipsies of this or of any other country. 

We remember reading, some years since, in a 
London periodical the following interesting remarks 


The writer says : " The origin of most family 
names is too remote in the obscurity of the past to 
be authenticated by anything better than a plausible 
guess. Generally they tell their own history. An 


individual trait of character or peculiarity of person 
has fixed a descriptive epithet upon an individual, 
and the designation extends to his posterity for ever. 
Thus we account easily for the Littles, the Longs, 
the Shorts, and the Broads, the Hardys, the Strongs, 
and the Swifts ; occupations have given name to 
the Smiths, the Gardners, the Coopers, the Taylors, 
and the Carpenters ; location to the Hills, the 
Brooks, the Rivers ; hirds to the Martins, the 
Herons, the Crows, and the Sparrows ; descent to 
the Williamsons, Jacksons, Johnsons, Richardsons, 
Thompsons, And so throughout the greater number 
of the names in English, and we suppose it is the 
same in all languages, for the philosophy is uni- 
versal " 

If we admit that it is not only possible, but highly 
probable that some of the names just mentioned were 
suggested by different objects in nature, may we not 
suppose that some of the gipsy names have a similar 
origin ? For example, the gipsy people are lovers 
of the lane and hedge, hence the name Loversedge* 
Gipsies have often been accused of stealing deer, and 
of securing, when they could, the finest and fattest 
_f the bucks — from this may have come the Buck- 
lands. Their love of wild flowers, and their custom 
of tenting under trees in mossy glens, and in the 
recesses of thick forests, may have originated the 
name of Greenwood ; and the name of Scamp, often 
given to men of unbridled passions, and who are 
defective in good moral principles, may have been 
given to gipsies because of their questionable mode 
of life, their acta of dishonesty, and loose vagrant 

G 2 


But it may be said that, " bad as the gipsies are, 
they would hardly from choice select a name im- 
plying so many bad qualities of human nature, and 
which would undoubtedly increase a dislike to them 
rather than lessen it." But it must be remembered 
that absence of moral sensibility and of personal 
respect renders some men totally indifferent to any 
name that may be applied to them, however 
appropriate it might be, or detrimental to their 
interests. It is by no means impossible that a gipsy 
who had been once called a "scamp" might, if 
subsequently asked his name, boastingly and care- 
lessly say, if he did not want to give his right one, 
" Why some men call me ' Scamp.' " This informa- 
tion l>eing given by one person to another, the 
gipsy would in the course of time become known 
by that and no other name. Such a man as a gipsy 
would be very likely to make no objection to such an 
epithet, but to content himself by saying, " It's no 
odds to me, one name is as good as another ; and I 
would just as soon be called ' Scamp ' as anything 
- else." 

Instances have been known in which, from some 
simple incident or other, men have received a name 
totally different from their baptismal one, and by 
which they and their descendants have ever after- 
wards been known. We do not positively assert 
that the names referred to were taken by the gipsies 
for the reasons mentioned, but we think it probable 
that they might have been so. 

nut rAiim:u asu ui«* wsoum mtt, 



The "tug of war" — Antagonistic views — "Use is second 
nature " — Old Draper the kettle-mender — Why he preferred 
the hedge to the house — "Gipsies' campaign from Lock's 
Fields " — A living dining table — " You are a wild set " — 
Gipsy love of freedom and fresh air — An unequal match — 
An interesting but mysterious story— A littlo suspicious — 
The farmer and some gipsies in Sussex — The stolen sheep — 
Strange conduct of a gipsy man at a funeral — An encounter 
between a policeman and gipsy Riley— Two cowards ami the 

" What is life? 
Tis not to stalk about, and draw fresh air 
From time to time, or gaze upon the sun ; 
Tis to l>o free. When liberty is gone, 
Life grows insipid, and has lost its relish." 

^ AiiM.son 



Like the rolling sea, the life of gipsies everywhere 
seems to be one of " perpetual motion," ever restless 
and upheaving, as if they could find no settled home 
in any country or locality on the face of the wide 
earth. Even their arrival at some favourable and 
selected spot in which they may intend to sojourn 
for a brief period appears almost instantaneously 
to give them some anxiety as to their next des- 
tination. This does not, however, always arise from 
a love of change or of novelty, but from causes well 
known to them as a race, but which we will not in 
any way attempt to explain. 

If it were possible to make ourselves acquainted 
with all the circumstances and events connected with 
the wanderings of the gipsy people from the time 
of their departure from India through the many 
continental countries to which we have already 
alluded, we should no doubt discover very many 
of them to have been not only painful, but of the 
most exciting and romantic kind. 

The " tug-of-war " carried on between civilized 
communities and the gipsies must of necessity have 
produced these results. Judging from what we 
know of the history of these nomads, charges and 
counter-charges would in all probability be made 
by them one against the other. While the former 
would denounce the gipsies as a lawless, lazy, vaga- 
bond race, the latter would no doubt regard their 
accusers as obsequious slaves of custom, etiquette 
and fashion, as living a restrained and artificial life, 
so much opposed to that freedom which Nature in- 
tended to be enjoyed as the birthright of every 
member of the human family. Practically, the 

gipsies seem to say in their love of liberty and 
of a wild life, 

m Let others roam . . • 
Where Art has spread its most voluptuous charms. 
I seek thee, Nature, in thy wildest forms, — 
Thy mountain cataracts and frowning heights, 
Where, as the unbroken prospect spreads around, 
Life-giving breezes, hoalth, and Bpirits bless 
The gipsy wanderer,' 1 

It is highly probable that these antagonistic views 
of what constitutes the real pleasure of life have 
increased, on the one hand, hatred to the gipsies, 
and on the other has widened the breach which 
has always existed between the two, and we may 
add is one of the principal reasons why gipsies keep 
apart from others. Even at the present time it is 
so, as English gipsies have not materially departed 
either from the habits or notions adopted and enter- 
tained by their forefathers centuries ago. 

For the truth of the above statements we have 
ample corroboration in the following quotation : 
14 Gipsies are the Arabs of pastoral England — the 
Bedouins of our commons and woodlands. In these 
days of material progress and much false refinement, 
they present the singular spectacle of a race in our 
midst who regard with philosophic indifference the 
much-prized comforts of modern civilization, and object 
to forego their simple life in close contact with Nature, 
in order to engage in the struggle after wealth and 
personal aggrandizement. These people, be it re- 
membered, are not the outcasts of society; they 
voluntarily hold aloof from its crushing organization, 
and refuse to wear the bonds it imposes. The same- 



ness and restraints of civil life, the routine of 
business and of labour, 4 the dull mechanic pacings 
to and fro,' the dim skies, confined air, and cir- - 
cumscribed space of towns, the want of freshness 
and natural beauty, these conditions of existence 
are for them intolerable, and they escape from them 
whenever they can. As in the present, so in past 
time, their history for centuries may be written in 
the words of the Psalmist : ' They wandered in 
the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no 
city to dwell in/ " 

So far as their mode of life with its multifarious 
surroundings affect the gipsies, we may see the truth 
and appropriateness of the old adage that 

"use is second nature." 

Born, as most of them are, either in our lanes, on 
our commons, or in the woods, they imbibe from 
their earliest infancy a love of freedom, and affection- 
for the tent — tattered though it may be, and a 
preference for their lonely wanderings, which no 
inducement in after life can prevail upon them vo- 
luntarily to relinquish. In warm summer weather 
especially no bed is to them more agreeably than * 
the yielding turf or the mossy couch they find on 
Natures generous bosom. On it they sleep and rest 
contentedly, with an innate consciousness of quiet 
and security, with the blue sky as their curtains, and 
the twinkling stars keeping vigil over them. 

The pure mountain breeze, the pellucid stream ** 
murmuring gently as it winds its way through the 
valley, the wild flowers of the road-side, refulgent 



in colours of a thousand hues, the majestic trees 
of the field and forest, waving crops, grazing cattle, 
humming insects, trilling birds, the far-spreading 
landscape glorious in its sylvan beauty, the wind 
whistling or moaning its solemn dirge among the 
forest trees, and even Nature's winter garb, all 
possess attractions for gipsy wanderers which no 
city, however great its wealth and grandeur, or 
costly its buildings, could ever present to their 

Although of late years, more than formerly, some 
gipsy families have, during the winter season, oc- 
cupied apartments in some of the most wretched 
bouses in the low localities of our large towns, they 
have not done so purely from choice. Preference 
for secluded glens, bye-lanes, and commons is, among 
the majority of the gipfcy people, as strong now as 
it ever was, of which the following story affords 
corroborative evidence. 

We happened on one occasion to be passing 
through a town in Bedfordshire, when our attention 
was arrested by a sonorous voice calling out, 
"Kettles, parasols, and umbrellas to mend. H Assuming 
it. came from a member of the gipsy race, we hastened 
on ip the direction from whence the sound proceeded. 
In about a minute we reached the corner of a street, 
when we came in contact with an old gipsy named 
Draper, who turned out to be the veritable advertiser 
of the kettle-mending qualifications just referred to, 
and whose personal appearance we will now describe. 
His hat was much dilapidated, being loose in the 
crown, and part of the brim torn off; in the band of 
it was stuck a black, short tobacco-pipe; his face 


was very dirty, even for a tinker; his beard was 
bristly and about a quarter of an inch long, looking 
very much like a half-worn-out scrubbing-brush; 
his neck was enveloped in a faded, greasy necker- 
chief; his old coat was out at the elbows; his 
trousers also were out at the knees, too short in the 
legs, and slit up the insides ; the soles of his boots 
were loose, and every time he stepped they went flip- 
flap. He carried under one arm some umbrellas, 
and in his hand a tin of burning charcoal. 

As the old man appeared to be both intelligent 
and good-natured, we saluted him with a "Cushty 
sala," at which he evinced some surprise. We then 
ventured to have a little chat with him about him- 
self and his mode of life, respecting which we felt 
sure he would not object to give us information, 
especially as we half hinted to him that it would be 
followed by a few coppers. So the conversation 
began by our saying, 

"Ami right, my moosh, in supposing you to be 
a gipsy?" 

u Oh, yes, sir, you are quite right," he replied. 
u I was born under a hedge, and very nearly the 
whole of my lifetime I've slept under one, excepting 
now and then, and especially the last six weeks, 
during which I've slept in a house." 

" I am glad to hear it," we remarked, u because I 
think the change you have made in your sleeping- 
place is a step in the right direction." 

u You may think so," said Draper rather super- 
ciliously; "but we differ in our opinions on that 
point. I likes the hedge a great deal better than I 
likes the house ; aye, that I do however." 


14 What may be your reasons" we asked the gipsy, 
44 for what appears to be a strange preference ? n 

"I have two I can give you for that/' he said 
very emphatically. " Now, sir, listen to me. You 
see, sir, when you sleeps in a house you don 1 1 always 
know who you sleeps after, and that is what I don't 
like at all. But if you sleeps under a hedge you do 
know it's clean, and there's no danger of being teazed 
out of your life by the company of bed-fellows which 
are much too lively to be agreeable, and very 
numerous they tell me, particularly in the close, 
confined courts and alleys of large towns, into which 
neither wind nor sun-light can find their way, and 
where you can't get a mouthful of fresh air/' 

Just at this point Draper interrupted himself by 
scanning the houses on both sides of the street, in 
hope, no doubt, of seeing some one with a maimed 
umbrella or dilapidated kettle requiring his mechani- 
cal skill. Although we resumed our conversation, it 
was but for a minute or two ; the gipsy had become 
impatient to be off, and so bidding us a *' Cushty sala" 
he turned his attention to business, and again bawled 
out, 44 Any kettles or umbrellas to mend? Now's 
your time— do em che — e — e — ap ; yes, that I will." 

Nothing we could say to him about the advan- 
tages and comforts enjoyed by those living in houses 
could induce this gipsy to admit that our way of 
living and sleeping was either better, more pleasant, 
or healthier than his own ; but on the contrary, he 
tried to show us that while our life was a confined, 
cramped, and artificial one, that of his own race was 
dictated to them by the laws of Nature, by which he 
thought everybody should at all times be guided. 


The strange notions entertained by old Draper, 
and his preference for a way-side sleeping-spot for 
the reasons he assigned, are universally character- 
istic of the gipsy race, of which we may see a strong 
proof in the following extract, taken from an article 
on the "Gipsies' Campaign from Lock's Fields." 
The writer, after describing the return of the gipsies 
to large towns when their summer and autumnal 
wanderings are over, goes on to say, " Not that the 
gipsy will consent to do violence to the fine free 
spirit with which Nature has invested him, by be- 
coming a house-dweller. No ; as close as you please 
to the skirts of civilization . . . but four walls and 
a roof are not to his fancy. It is the same with the 
women as the men. I recently overheard two 
middle-aged flowers of the forest discussing the 
matter in their encampment in the vicinity of Lock's 
Fields, Walworth. Both were sun-bronzed, and 
both wore coral earrings, and their straw bonnets 
hind side in front. Both were at ease, and com- 
fortably disposed for leisurely chat. The one was 
seated in a barrow, for which her ample form was an 
easy fit, and the other was discussing her mid-day 
meal, and was evidently actuated by a determination 
to adhere, as far as circumstances would permit, to 
those rural domestic rites and ceremonies to which 
her heart inclined. She was squatted on a wisp of 
hay-bands, by the side of a recumbent donkey, whose 
four legs hedged her in, and she had utilized the 
flanks of the docile creature to serve as a table. 
There was bread and butter spread on it, and about a 
quarter of a peck of turnip radishes. There was a 
bald shiny patch on the donkey's hip set round with 



hair, and this was made to contain salt, and every 
time his mistress dipped a radish into this extem- 
porized salt-cellar, and proceeded to scrunch it up, 
there was an expression in the animal's half-closed 
eyes that betrayed his consciousness that now she 
was enjoying herself, and the satisfaction the re- 
collection afforded him, 

" * Aud how s old Cooper a doin' since he gave up 
the wan and took to the housel ? 1 inquired the female 
in the wheelbarrow. 

u * He's growing wus and wus,' replied her friend, 
with a grim serve him right too expression in her 
beady eyes. 4 He was right enough on wheels ; 
why didn't he stay on 'em ? ' 

* ( 1 Ah, to be sure, I know what I should expect 
would shortly happen to me if once I trusted myself 
atween lath and plaster.' 

"*But it ain't the laths, and it ain't the bricks, 
ray dear,' rejoined her friend; * it's summit in the 
mortar that works its way into your cistern, and 
that's what'li bunnick old Cooper up, you mark my 

"I don't believe she meant 'cistern,' though 
certainly she said it. If I might hazard a guess, I 
think she intended to convey her impression that 
there was something in the composition of mortar 
that was injurious to the human system, and that 
old Mr. Cooper was in danger of becoming a victim 
to rashly entrusting himself within its baleful in- 

Sunshine, unrestrained liberty to roam through 
lanes, woods, and wilds, and the music of birds, seem 
to be necessary to the happiness and life of gipsies. 




said an author on gipsy life to a girl of the tribe. 

" Open air and liberty make us so," was her reply. 

" But would you not like to live in a house ? " 

" No," said she ; " I should pine away and die, 
just as would that lark " — pointing to one that was 
singing on the wing — u if you put it in a cage. I 
was born in a tent, I have lived in a tent, and I 
hope to die in a tent. I am of true Stanley blood, 
and love to hear the wind whistle round my canvas, 
and the rain patter on it, and feel myself warm and 
snug within. Besides, I love to feel the morning's 
fresh air, and to see the smoke of the camp fire 
ascend ; no one who has a real drop of Romany 
blood in him ever yet willingly took to the life of 
the house-dweller." 

The same writer states " that two gipsy children, 
having been cleanly washed and neatly dressed, 
were taken to the house of a benevolent gentleman 
who had kindly offered to feed, clothe and educate 
them for a while. During the day they amused them- 
selves by running up and down stairs and through 
the rooms of the house like wild cats in a wood. 
But when night came and they were put to bed, 
they cried piteously for two hours, saying, 'The 
house will fall on us and crush us to death/ They 
had not slept in a house before that night." 

That the idea of living in a house is repugnant to 
the views and feelings of this wandering race as 
described in the foregoing incidents derives support 
from the following statements made by Mr. S, 



Roberts in his excellent work, * Parallel Miracles/ 
&c M in which he says : 

44 If the gipsies could obtain a livelihood without 
ever coming in contact with other people, it seems 
as if they would rather do so* Nay, they will 
6iibmit to the greatest and most severe privations 
rather than be compelled to such an alternative. 
When they are driven to it, it seems that their 
object is to retire from it again as soon as the means 
of doing so can be acquired. If, by the severity of 
the weather, or other causes, they are forced to seek 
refuge under less penetrable roofs than those of their 
frail, slight tents, they never resort to the common 
lodging houses, among the depraved vagrants of 
towns; they obtain a room to themselves, however 
mean it may be ; they dwell as retired and unknown 
as they can, and they leave their prison-house, like 
the earliest sportive denizen of the air, on the first 
gleam of sunshine, to enjoy their beloved freedom 
in the refreshing breeze of the opening spring, 
erecting their own simple, endeared habitation in the 
verdant lane under the budding hawthorn, by the side 
of the sparkling stream, whose banks are sweetened 
and embellished by the violet and the primrose, 
while the heavens smile over their heads with 
renewed splendour, and the whole welkin rings with 
the awakened notes of love, harmony, and delight. 
• . . This unconquerable love of freedom and of 
the country is not felt in the same degree by any 
other people on the face of the globe as it is felt by 
the gipsies, universally, and has been so, through 
all the ages since they were first known. It seems 
inseparable from their nature, and must have been 



impressed upon it for some good purpose by 
Almighty power" 

The same author informs us that on one occasion 
he asked a gipsy if he preferred their itinerant way 
of living in the open air to that of residing in a 
house. To which the man replied with strong 
emphasis, and apparently with sincerity and de^ 
votion, " Thank God, that I am not compelled to 
live in the filth and foul air of towns." On this 
subject he seemed to like to dwell. He said, " We 
have everything here sweet and clean, and free from 
vermin of all kinds. We can go where we like ; 
we have no taxes to pay, w.e have very few cares ; we 
generally enjoy good health, and though in winter 
the weather is sometimes severe, it must be very 
much so to drive us into a house for shelter ; that 
was, however, the case last winter, and for a little 
while we were in lodgings in Birmingham." I 
asked if they were in one of the lodging houses. 
He replied, " Nothing could drive them into such 
dreadful places ; that they had taken a small room 
for a few weeks, which they had entirely to them- 
selves ; but that he always felt the strongest re- 
pugnance to living in a house." 

Taking a retrospective, present, and even pro- 
spective view of the notions, proclivities, passions, and 
surroundings of this strange race, they seem to say 
to us, " You Gorjos are welcome to the noise, the 
smoke, the gaiety and even the fine houses of your 
towns and cities ; we neither need nor wish for them." 
So strong is the love of gipsies for their own way 
of life that neither money, high position in society, 
social advantages, nor domestic luxuries can quench 


it. In proof of this we state on good authority that 
not more than twenty years since an English gentle- 
man, hoth by birth, education and fortune, married 
a gipsy girl, to whose family he had shown great 
kindness* His wife bore him several children. 
Much as she loved them, her love for her own 
people and their life of unrestrained freedom would 
often exhibit itself- At times she became gloomy, 
taciturn and restless, and would often express her 
dislike to the conventionalities and ceremonies of 
high life, so opposed to her own tastes and notions 
of what constituted real pleasure and gave to life 
Us greatest zest. She longed to break the fetters 
which held her in bondage, and to become again 
Nature s free child — in fact, she seemed practically to 
express herself in the words of one of our own songs — 

Sweet liberty I I long for thee ; 

I sigh for thee — that where 
Thou dwellest, I unfettered soon 

May breathe thy balmy air. 
That free as birds which wing their flight 

At will from tree to treo t 
I may aa blithe ae they become, 

And sing in liberty. 

Just before her husband died he made his own 
brother the guardian of his children ; the mother 
after the fathers death rejoining her own race. 
Although her maternal affection remained, and she 
often saw her children, yet she voluntarily ex- 
changed her respectable position, associations, and 
social advantages^ for the hardships and uncertainties 
of a roaming life with members of her own tribe. 

The means adopted by some gipsies in order to 






show their gratitude for favours bestowed upon them 
may not, in all cases, be commendable, but this does 
not weaken in any degree the truth of the assertion 
that, as a race, they fully appreciate kindness, which 
we may state is one of their most prominent 
The following 


told to us by a friend, in some measure bears out the 
truthfulness of the above remarks. It appears that 
opposite to where lived our informant was the 
residence of the village doctor. The former gen- 
tleman being of studious habits often remained 
awake in his bed during a great part of the night. 
On one occasion, when both Somnus and Morpheus 
seemed to be in league with each other to prevent 
sweet sleep and pleasant dreams from lending him 
their aid, he heard the noise of carriage wheels 
coming from the direction of the doctor's house, 
and concluded that his neighbour's services were 
required iu some urgent case or other of sudden 
illness, to which he was no doubt then going to 

On the following day our friend ascertained that 
his conjectures were right. The doctor had been 
called up from his bed by a gipsy man, who said his 
wife was lying very ill in a tent pitched in a lane 
some distance off, and that he wanted the doctor to 
return with him. Thither the doctor went, and there 
he remained until he was satisfied that the now 
gipsy mother was so far out of danger. The gipsy 


husband then asked, u Wliat a to pay, master ? " 
4 * Nothing/' said the doctor. This so surprised the 
gipsy that he could hardly believe his own ears ; it 
also made him feel quite at a loss to understand 
what such unusual and unexpected kindness to them 
could mean. He, however, thanked the doctor vtry 
heartily, saying, at the same time, 4fc I shall not 
forget you, master." The doctor then bade the occu- 
pants of the tent u good-raorning," and returned 

In a short time the gipsy woman became con- 
valescent, so that she and her family were able to 
leave the neighbourhood, but no tidings of their 
whereabouts reached the doctor. Summer passed 
away, and autumn came on, when, on one of its 
dark nights, a knock was heard at the medical man's 
door, but when it was opened no one could be 
seen. This was mysterious. Again the knocks 
were given, and a third time they were repeated. 
The doctor then w r ent with the servant to find out, 
if possible, what all this could mean, when to his 
astonishment he found a brace of pheasants hanging 
from the knocker of the door, but there was no 
indication as to whose hands had placed them, there* 
Subsequently, as the years rolled round, and the 
game season came on, a hare, pheasants, or a rabbit 
now and then made their appearance on the knocker 
of the doctor's door, in the same unaccountable 
manner as before. As it appeared impossible to 
obtain any satisfactory data explanatory of the cir- 
cumstances alluded to, the doctor said to our in- 
formant, **I suppose the gipsies I attended some 
time since know more about the gnnre I liave so 

h 2 


often found on the knocker of my door than any- 
body else, and therefore I shall conclude that I am 
indebted for it to the gipsy man who used the ex- 
pression, i I shall not forget you, master/ " 

But as no positive proof could be obtained that 
the doctor was under any obligation to the man 
suspected for the favours referred to, the whole affair 
remains to this day as mysterious as ever ; there is 
no doubt, however, that the doctor s supposition was 
a well-founded one. 

- We are indebted to the same informant for the 
following account of some gipsies, which certainly 


Some time since a farmer residing at Plumpton in 
Sussex started one morning to see a number of sheep 
belonging to him that were grazing in a distant 
part of his farm. In his journey thither he had a 
little chat with some gipsies who were encamped in 
a lane through which he. had to pass. He noticed a 
fine leg of mutton suspended from an iron bar and 
roasting at a large fire. Having made some remark 
about preparations for dinner, the cook, an aged 
gipsy woman, generously invited him to remain 
until it was ready, and then to join them in taking 
a slice or two of the mutton, which, she said, he 
" would find very nice." He, however, declined, for 
sundry reasons, to accept the invitation. 

He then left the gipsies, and proceeded on his 
way to the sheep field. There he met his shepherd; 
who, with a woeful countenance said, " Eh ! master, 
I'm sorry to say another sheep is missing this 



morning — gone since last night ; and although IVe 
been looking about for it a long time, I have found 
only the skin of it, at leastways, I suppose it was the 
skin of the missing sheep, for it was hardly cold 
when I found it, but where the carcass has gone to, 
I dunna know * 

The roasting leg of mutton came vividly % to the 
farmer s recollection, and he at once concluded that 
he had been invited by the gipsies to dine off the 
leg of one of his own sheep, the worth of which had 
not found its way into his pocket. Whether the 
farmers conjecture was right or not it is difficult 
to say, as no evidence was forthcoming to prove that 
these nomads had not honestly paid for the said leg 
of mutton. It appears, however, that soon after the 
farmer's visit to their camp the gipsies had packed 
up and gone from the place, leaving nothing behind 
theui to show they had been there save the black 
patch of ground where the fire had been burning. 

While the whole circumstances seem to point to 
the gipsies as the parties who had stolen the sheep, 
we cannot help remarking that cooking a portion of 
it in a place so contiguous to that from which the 
animal had been taken is not at all consistent with 
the precautionary measures usually taken by this 
people in all their movements, especially when they 
want to evade detection for any misdemeanour they 
may have committed. It must also be remem- 
bered that many instances have been known in 
which advantage has been taken of the presence of 
gipsies, by men more dishonest than themselves, to 
plunder not only fields, but homesteads too, with the 
belief that the former would surely be suspected, 




and that they themselves would in all probability 
escape the punishment due to their crimes. Of this 
the gipsies are fully aware. Their hasty removal 
from the lane where the farmer saw them does not 
therefore prove that they were really guilty of the 
theft of which they had been accused by the farmer, 


A gentleman residing at Ridge has informed us 
that a short time since a gipsy woman, tented in a 
lane close by, died of small-pox, and was buried in 
the churchyard of the above place. As the gipsy 
people have a great dread of all contagiqus diseases, 
especially of the one just mentioned, only two men, 
members of her tribe, attended her funeral. During 
its procession, and even when the corpse was 
lowered into the grave, and while the burial service 
was being read, one of the gipsy men persisted in 
smoking his pipe. Although he gave no special 
reason for so doing, there is no doubt he had an 
idea that it would be a protection to him against the 
fearful malady through which this member of his 
tribe had lost her life. 

Be this as it may, it is nevertheless remarkable 
that although he escaped unharmed, the other gipsy 
who did not smoke was taken ill of small-pox, and 
died of it shortly afterwards, and we believe was 
buried by the side of her he had so recently followed 
to the grave. We do not assert that the use of the 
tobacco saved the one gipsy man from death, or that 
the death of the other was owing to his non-use of 
the same preventive means ; we only mention this 


as another singular incident connected with the life 
of the gipsy race* 

The wanderings of the gipsies and their location 
even in the most secluded and out-of-the-way places 
have sometimes thrown them into unpleasant col* 
lision with officers of the law, who we fear in 
some instances have injudiciously and unnecessarily 
exercised the power with which they have been 
invested. In proof of this we may narrate 


One day, early in the spring of 1870, we happened 
to be in the town of Evesham, the inhabitants of 
which were astir with wonder and excitement through 
a report having reached them of a terrible scuffle 
which had taken place between two men, one of 
whom was a gipsy, and who had been summoned 
to appear before the magistrate to be examined for 
an assault alleged against him. 

Impelled by the Bame feeling of curiosity which 
induced great numbers of the townsfolk to be present 
at the examination of bira they readily denounced 
44 a roving vagabond," we hastened to the court, 
and there learnt the following particulars. 

It appeared that Riley (the gipsy who had been 
summoned) and other gipsies were tented in a lane 
not far from Evesham, where they tied their horses 
by long lines to the hedges and left them to feed 
upon the grass, A policeman having discovered tlie 
retreat of these gipsies, and thinking no doubt that 
he had a just reason for interfering and showing his 

4*:r.rxr 'v. ^eramco^riLj ^riersd die gxpaes to «ntie 
V-ei !ir.«st. v. pock iz T *aii at leave the 
Iar:e : -Jvl* zizmea rrri^ai so do- 

* Tnicn HI -^Lti'.oee trie horse* fcr yon,"" aid the 

- Yoc had ce^er not/" aid Rfley. who was a 
ir/v-ri A E-an : * cr von mav rue it."* 

y ■ j iccner was the attempt male by the officer to 
carry oit Lis threat than a fearful scuffle took place 
hetw%n the two men. The gipsy, however, wrested 
the cord from the hands of his antagonist, whom he 
*er*t reeling with great force against the hedge. 
The latter then took up a large-sized stone, which 
Ki'Iey produced in court, and struck the gipsy on one 
tide of hi* head, which bled profusely. A stand-up 
fight between the two men then ensued. Blow 
succeeded blow in rapid succession; harder and 
harder the men contended for the mastery, until 
by the superior strength and science of the gipsy 
the officer was fairly vanquished, and no doubt very 
glad to leave the scene of the conflict, and so avoid 
further humiliation and punishment at the hands of - " 
those he considered to be " a lawless tribe." 

It might have fared ill with Riley had not one of the 
parish authorities told the magistrates that the gipsies 
had his permission to camp in the lane, where they had 
done ho before, and that they were quiet, and, as far as 
ho knew, also honest and harmless too. All the adult' 
gipsies of that encampment were present, " watching 
the cane," and, of course, all alike anxious to hear 
tho decision of the bench as to the punishment to be 
inflicted upon this member of their own fraternity. 
It was so evident the policeman was the aggressor in 


tiiis case that the magistrates, sifter giving the gipsies 
a few words of warning and good advice respecting 
their vagrant habits, imposed a fine of a few shil- 
lings upon the defend ant, which wafi paid by his 
wife, who said, as she was leaving the court with 
the other gipsies, u Thank ee, gen'elman — it s better 
than we expected — thank 'ee, gen'elman.'* Having 
regaled themselves at a public-house, they quietly 
returned to" their tents in the lane, which they soon 
left for another locality. 



On one occasion when walking from Swindon, in 
Wiltshire, to a village about five miles off, to give a 
lecture on gipsy life, we happened to come upon a 
camp of gipsies, whose tents were pitched under a 
hedge in a recess of tha road. Having interested 
them by repeating a few words and sentences of their 
* own language, we told them what we were going to 
do, and that we should be returning to Swindon 
about nine o'clock on the same evening. We also 
said that if they should hear any sound of alarm 
coming from between them and the village, they 
were immediately to hasten to the spot from whence 
it came, assigning as our reason for making this 
request, that in our journeys home late at night 
e had sometimes been stopped by men we had 
reason to believe were intent upon robbery and 

* All right, my Rei," said a muscular young gipsy 
an ; ** we'll be on the look-out, and if we should 
bear anything from the dark lane through which 


you'll have to pass, we'll be there in a twinkling ; 
as it isn't more than a few hundred yards off, and as 
the wind blows from that direction, we are sure to 
hear you." 

We thanked them, and then hastened on to the 
village, in the schoolroom of which we gave our 

We then left to return to Swindon. Having 
walked about a quarter of a mile after leaving the 
village, we found ourself in the narrow lane 
referred to by the gipsy, with a high bank and 
hedge on both sides. Although the stars were out, 
their light rendered us but small service. Suddenly, 
and unheard, two men came from the hedge and 
stepped right in front of us. We attempted to pass 
on, but one of them said, " Not so fast, sir, we want 
you ! " 

" Well, and what do you want ? " we inquired* 
" Just to know how you've got on to-night. We 
are aware of what you've been up to, and have a 
notion that you've pocketed a good bit of money, 
and as we are particularly hard up just now, we 
want you to hand a little of it over to us, and you 
must look sharp about it too, as we want to be off ; 
and mind don't refuse, or we may compel you to give 
us what we ask for." 

We knew that close by was a stile leading to a 
path crossing a field, and which cut off an angle 
of the road extending a considerable distance. So 
we said to them, " It's very dark here in the lane, let 
us get over the stile into the field, and then we can 
better see what we are doing. One of the men got 
over first, then we followed, the other man getting 



over after us. We were all three then in the open field 
where the light of the stars rendered so much assist- 
ance that we could see enough of the men to know 
what kind of material we had to deal with. That 
they were not " professional highwaymen " we were 
convinced. Nevertheless, they appeared to be 
strong, determined fellows, and very awkward- 
looking companions under the circumstances. We 
have always entertained the idea they were not 
strangers to the neighbourhood, but that they lived 
not far off ; knew all about the locality, and in all 
probability had actually heard our lecture. 

Mustering up all the courage and determination 
we could, we said to the men, 

** Let me tell you that your demand is not only 
wrong but a cowardly one. Two to one is by no 
means fair, but I am not so helpless as you may 
imagine. Close by is a gipsy encampment, to the 
men of which I spoke when coming here this after- 
noon. They know me well, and promised to be on 
the watch for me just at this time, and it may be 
they not only hear what I am now saying, but their 
eyes may be upon you, I have only to sound an 
alarm when three or four of them will be here in a 
few moments. I therefore refuse to give you any 
money, and defy you, I would advise you to go. If 
you remain you are sure to be punished by the 
gipsies in their own peculiar fashion, which you 
will never forget as long as you live,'* 

The fellows were taken aback, looked at each other, 
but made no further effort to obtain a part of our 
money. Just at this moment a dog barked , and a 
voice was heard saying in a subdued tone, "Be quiet, 


dog, do." The men then suddenly turned round, 
ran to the stile, got into the lane, and no doubt 
scampered off homewards. We then resumed our 
journey, soon came to the gipsy encampment, which 
had already been reached by two or three of the 
men who had been on the alert. After a little oha^ 
and many thanks for their promises of protection 
we hastened on to Swindon. Whether it was oovtf- 
science that made cowards of the two would-be 
highwaymen, or their dislike to antagonism with 
the gipsies, it matters not It is evident the latter 
acted in this case "as a terror to men as bad, if 
not far worse, than themselves." 




Tents an ancient order of architecture— An aristocratic tent 
and how it was furnished — A chat in a gipsy van — Some 
cartes- de-visite— How the gipsies cook their food — Visit to 
the town residence of an old gipsy, and how we Aired — Tho 
king of the Yetholm gipsies — The dwellings of his subjects 
— The domestic habits and industry of some gipsy women — 
Gipsy love of music —dancing and other amusements— 
Quarrels among the gipsies— Jealousy — Gipsies and the 
game laws — Poaching — A gipsy chief and his men in 
council — A disputed point — A wicked act— A gipsy's hill 
of fare— A gipsy dinner party— Employment of gipsies, 

**Home of our childhood ! how affection clings 
And hovers round thee with her seraph wings ; 
Dearer thy hills, though clad in autumn brown, 
Than fairest summits which the cedars crown ! 



Sweeter the fragrance of thy summer breeze 
Than all Arabia breathes along the seas ! 
The stranger's gale wafts home the exile's sigh, 
For the heart's temple is its own blue sky." 

W. 0. Holmes. 

Although there are several orders of architecture 
adopted in the erection of houses, which show a 
certain degree of art, taste, and elegance, and afford 
great accommodation to those who live in them, it 
would be rather difficult to ascertain to what particu- 
lar order the tents of the gipsies belong, save that 
it is one of great antiquity ; although these dwellings 
show very little architectural genius, and give but 
scant convenience to their occupants. The use of 
tents dates a long way back in the history of the 
human race, so that from the custom of gipsies living 
in them we derive some support to the belief that 
modern gipsies are the descendants, or M remnants," 
as Hogg states, " of a race of old." 

In describing the simple and primitive structure 
of the tents of our gipsy wayfarers, we may notice 
that, like more substantial buildings, they differ 
considerably in the amount of comfort and accom- 
modation to be found within them. Some of them 
are wretched in the extreme, consisting only of a 
few bent sticks, tattered canvas, or old smoked 
blankets, which afford no proper shelter from the rain, 
and but poor protection from the severe cold of winter, 
while the occupants themselves are often so meanly 
and thinly clad and poorly fed, that they look as if 
they had formed a matrimonial alliance with poverty, 
in which they seem to be " steeped to the very lips.'* 
This condition does not, however, appear to affect 



them as long as their liberty is not interfered with. 
They do not, as a rule, as might be supposed, repine 
at their lot, but are happy in spite of their pri- 
vations, which they endure with patience and 
philosophical indifference, while each of theni 
seems practically to say 

*' While calmly poor, I trifle life away, 
Enjoy Bweet leisure by my cheerful fire ; 
No wanton hope my quiet shall betray, 
But, cheaply blessed, I'll scorn each vain desire." 

Fortune has, however, been more bountiful in her 
favours to some of these " dwellers in tents" than to 
others, A few years since we visited an encamp- 
ment of gipsies located in a grass field in the west of 
England, whose tents were lofty, spacious, and of 
the best materials. The green sward just within 
the opening of one of these tents was covered with 
carpet; at the other end of the tent were a good 
feather bed, bolster and pillows, and underneath a 
mattress, palliasse, and a thick layer of loose straw 
on the ground. The bedding was clean, and 
apparently of the best quality. On one side of the 
bed was a large chest containing (we were told by 
one of the occupants of the tent, a gipsy widow 
woman) choice china ware, plated and silver articles 
of various kinds, and other valuables ; all con- 
stituting a sort of tent idol, which the widow 
and tier daughter seemed to revere and almost to 

On the other Bide of the bed was a large cage 
containing a most garrulous grey parrot, who could 
utter not only words but sentences of the gipsy 
dialect. Over the head of the bed was a minor, and 


from the centre of the tent roof a paraffin lamp was 
suspended. There was, however, neither chair nor 
table to be seen. A rough deal box, used as a 
depository for the common crockery, was the only 
thing, save the ground, that could be utilized as a 
table. There were two or three hassocks, which we 
soon discovered were for the exclusive accommoda- 
tion of a certain class of visitors who were specially 
anxious that these women should, by tracing the 
lines on the palms of the hands, or by some other 
means, reveal to them the store of good or ill luck 
the future might contain for them. 

At the outside of the tent, and but a few feet 
from the opening of it, was the temporary fireplace, 
and behind it the cooking utensils. Belonging to 
the gipsies of this encampment were some vans; 
two of them had cost their proprietors one hundred 
and twenty pounds each, and both of them were 
fitted up and painted in a very artistic and superior 
manner. Each van contained a small bed and 
sitting-room well furnished, but were occupied only 
when heavy rains and high winds prevented the 
gipsies from living and sleeping in the tents, or 
when on their journeys they stopped on the way- 
side to rest only for a night or two. In the van 
belonging to the gipsy who was bearing the honour 
as chief of this encampment we noticed several 
cartes-de-visite tacked on the inside of the door. 

" Whom do these represent ? " we asked the chief. 
" Gen elmen like yourself, sir," was his reply, " who 
have taken a little interest in our folks, like. If 
you'll give me your picture, I'll put it with the rest, 
so that when I looks at it, it will bring you to my 


mind when we are many miles apart. I hopes you 
won't refuse me, as I have great respect, and some, 
thing more than that, for you, for the kindness you 
have shown us in so many ways." The desired 
carte-de-visite was supplied, and added forthwith to 
the gipsy s travelling portrait gallery. 

In cooking, the gipsies do not use the tripod so 
much now as formerly. Their pots and kettles are 
suspended over the fire from the top of an iron bar 
about five feet long, sharpened at one end, and bent 
at the other at right angles, about nine inches, and 
hooked at the end to prevent the pot or kettle from 
slipping off. This bar is planted deeply and 
obliquely in the ground, so that it may be firm, 
and the top of it may lean over the fire. It is also 
used for making holes into which to fix the tent 

Although, as we have before stated, gipsies prefer 
a wide range of country in which to wander and to 
pick up a living, there are a few, and but a few, 
cases in which they have resided and plied their 
vocations in large towns. This will be seen in what 
subsequently took place some time after our inter- 
view with old gipsy Lovell, referred to in the 
second chapter. 

Before we parted, Lovell expressed a hope that we 
should pay him a visit at his home in Agar Town 
as soon as convenient. We did so a few days 
afterwards, and found his residence to be a crazy, 
dilapidated van, which he said had been standing 
in the same place about twenty-three years, during 
which period it had undergone but few, if any, 
repairs. It was neither wind-tight nor waterproof, 


and its interior presented a most uncomfortable 

Old Lovell was at home, sitting as near the fire 
as he could get, smoking a short pipe, which his 
wife would now and then take out of his mouth to 
have, as she said, just a whiff or two." She was, 
however, preparing for dinner, of which we felt 
very glad we were not expected to partake, as the 
appearance of the cook was by no means a re- 
commendation to the viands. Both her hands and 
face seemed to be very innocent of soap and water, 
of which it was evident also that very little of 
either was used by her for anything. The floor of 
the van, some distance from the fire, was strewn with 
ashes, while an old table, two or three very rough, 
rickety seats, the pot on the fire, and even the little 
crockery ware we saw, were besmeared with greasy 
dirt, and all of them more or less unsafe and un- 

On the occasion of our visit to this gipsy town 
residence the rain was falling heavily, and it was 
very difficult to keep clear of the wet which came 
through the leakages in the roof of the van. Little 
as there was in this gipsy habitation to induce a 
stranger to remain within it any length of time, we 
nevertheless did so, and subsequently paid many 
visits to this aged couple, from whom we received 
much information respecting the gipsy dialect, with 
which Lovell and his wife were well acquainted, and 
not only spoke fluently, but explained to us freely 
and without reserve. In this particular we were 
highly favoured, as gipsies are usually very reticent 
in reference to their dialect, which most of them 


believe was invented by their forefathers for secret 
purposes. Although previous to our first visit to 
Lovell's van we had an idea that gipsies residing in 
towns had only a limited knowledge of their own 
dialect, it was now removed, and we felt much more 
inclined to believe that gipsies in England, and in 
other countries, strive, as much as possible, in 
the most mysterious manner, to perpetuate their 
separated ness from all other people among whom 
it may be their lot to wander. 

An able writer in * Hogg's Instructor' says, in 
referring to 


that u the King solemnly averred to us, when we 
inquired how ho liked hia wandering life, that 
during the winter months in wliich he was com- 
pelled to abandon the camp and the wayside for his 
snug cottage, he never telt thoroughly well ; but 
that as soon as the spring came, and he could once 
more sleep in the open air, he renewed his strength. 
The refreshing influence of the beauties of Nature, 
the freedom from restraint, the careless life, and the 
jocund spirit, 4 turning to mirth all things on earth,' 
contributed as so many hygienic agents to rein- 
vigorate his frame. When he reverts to the days 
of his youth, and talks of the greenwood and the 
glen, his eye kindles, and the spirit of his earlier 
years seems to return, so thoroughly has his heart 
been wedded to the wandering habits ol his boy- 
hood. ... To wander in pleasant valleys, to 
escape from the irksomeness of labour, and to know 

I 2 


no control, present strong temptations when con- 
trasted with the severe toil with which the peasantry 
are familiar." 

Mr. Baird, who had a thorough knowledge of the 
habits of this people in Scotland, tells us that 


are by no means of the first order. " Enter,*' he 
says, " the dwellings of most of the young married 
people of the tribe, and the only furniture you will 
probably see is a stool, or a broken chair, which 
supplies its place, a pot or a pan, it may be a kettle, 
and in a corner of the apartment a little straw, 
confined within boards or otherwise, upon which 
are thrown a dirty blanket or two, with perhaps a 
coarse rug, between which the whole family nestle 
during the night. The windows are probably broken, 
and the whole room has a desolate appearance." 

But to this dark, miserable picture of gipsy life 
there are exceptions, to which we have already 
referred. " We know," says another writer, " gipsies 
whose houses are perfect patterns of cleanliness and 
order." Adverting to the scant comfort and con- 
venience in the winter homes of the Yetholm gipsies, 
one can hardly be surprised that their occupants 
should long for the return of spring, with its flowers, 
freshness and beauty, when they can erect their 
tents in the mossy glen, by the mountain side, or 
under the blossoming hawthorn hedge, where purest 
breezes blow and Natures woodland singers make the 
welkin ring with their soft and sweetest warblings. 

While the external appearances of some men and 


women, seen under different circumstances, are 10 
many cases indicators of their tastes, habits, and 
general manner of life, they are not at all times safe 
criterions by which to judge either of them, or the race 
to which they may belong. For instance, numbers 
of men worth thousands of pounds a year have 
been known to be so miserly and mean as not only 
to neglect clothing themselves in decent attire, but 
even to appear in our public streets wearing habili- 
ments of so wretched a kind that the most needy 
of our peasantry would scorn to put them on their 

These remarks, in some measure, apply to English 
gipsies. The old faded shawls and frocks worn by 
many gipsy women, the shoeless and stockingless 
legs and feet of the children, their long, rough, 
and uncombed hair, and the common material of 
the coats and other garments of some of the men, 
which are often very redolent of stale tobacco pipes, 
stuck it may be in the hat-band, or lodged, when 
not in use, in one or other of their pockets, and 
I m ticularly the dingy drabby yellow complexions, 
both of some of the men and women, seem at first 
sight to indicate that the gipsy people utterly ignore 
all necessary ablutions and other laws of health, that 
they pay no regard whatever to the duty of cleanli- 
ness, in consequence of which the whole race should 
be denounced as ** a dirty set/' 

However true this may be in some cases, there 
are many gipsy men, and women too, to whom the 
above remarks are not applicable. 

On some occasions the men belonging to the 
better class of gipsies wear clothes of good and 


costly materials, which they usually have made in 
a peculiar fashion, and to fit well. This is especially 
the case with the younger men of some of the tribes. 
Many of the women are equally particular in re- 
ference to what they call their " best dresses," to 
which we shall again refer in a subsequent chapter. 
Whatever truth there may be in the alleged laziness 
of some gipsy men, much may be said in com- 
mendation of 


We can assert from practical knowledge that 
numbers of the females of these nomadic tribes are 
very particular in the cleanliness of their linen, 
which may often be seen nearly as white as snow 
lying on the grass, or hanging on the hedgerows 
near their encampments. As most gipsy women 
object to entrust their property, such as cloth, calico, 
worsted, or other materials intended for wearing 
apparel, in the hands of strangers, the necessity of 
making their own garments falls upon themselves. 
The result is, that by the constant use of the needle, 
both old and young amongst them are good seam- 
stresses and knitters ; some of them are embroiderers, 
and even crochet workers ; while not a few are clever 
in making fancy articles of various kinds, especially 
small coloured baskets for the work-table. 

As a people they have a notion that recreation 
is a necessity and an important element in the 
happiness of life. They indulge, therefore, in many 
kinds of games, sports, and pastimes, including 


racing, jumping, feats of strength, sparring, athletic 
exercises, and other things peculiar to them as a 
race, but in which no one else but those of their 
own tribes are permitted to take a part. 


In the early part of their sojourn in England 
they were our street musicians ; and even now 
gipsy fiddlers are often engaged to play the violin 
at village feasts, wakes, and rustic weddings. Their 
favourite instruments are the harp, fiddle, tam- 
bourine, and tin whistle. Such apt pupils in music 
are many of them, that if they had proper facilities 
and efficient tutors they would be no disgrace what- 
ever either to the most eminent composers or to the 
most accomplished musicians. We know a gipsy 
child who, when only nine years old, was taught 
to play on the piano by a lady in Edinburgh, and 
in a short time became very proficient in that kind 
of music. 

It was in the autumnal part of the year, and 
not very long since, that we happened to be cross- 
ing a field in a solitary part of Gloucestershire, 
when to our surprise the notes of some kind of 
musical instrument reached our ears. Proceeding 
on our way in the direction from which the sound 
emanated, we espied some smoke curling lazily 
upwards behind some trees not far off. Passing 
tnrough the gateway, we discovered a little way 
down the lane to our left hand a gipsy tent, from 
the fire of which the smoke was ascending. 

Thither we hastened wilh all speed, in hope of 


resting a little while, and having a chat with the 
gipsies. But we were disappointed, as the adult 
occupiers of this fragile dwelling were absent, 
having left early in the morning to ply their voca- 
tions in the surrounding villages, at lone cottages, 
gentlemen's and farm houses. No one was there 
save two boys, one of whom was lame, and amusing 
himself and his tawny brother by playing a tin- 
whistle, for which he never had invested more than 
twopence, or it may be threepence at the most. 
That he had what some people term "a musical 
talent " was evident from the ease and rapidity with 
which he fingered the instrument, and, we may say, 
from the sweet sounds he brought out of it. Indeed 
they were so wonderful that had the surroundings 
of that lame gipsy boy been of a more favourable 
character than they were, we could almost have pro- 
phesied for him a future popular and successful 
musical career. 

To this hour we remember the half sweet melan- 
choly we felt in that quiet spot as the music of the 
whistle seemed to blend with the gentle breeze, and 
to be softened as it travelled along the narrow lane, 
and then coming back in subdued reverberations 
from the trees and the side of a hill not far off. 

As we believe gipsies constitute one family, it 
may not be inappropriate to mention that on the 
continent, particularly in Russia, Hungary, and 
Transylvania, many gipsies have become very 
popular as singers in cathedrals and churches, and 
have often been employed to sing before princes and 
fashionable assemblies both private and public. In 
Spain some of the Gitanos are theatrical per- 


formers, and cases are not infrequent in winch they 
have attained great efficiency and popularity, 

A gentleman with whom we are intimately ac- 
quainted has informed us that during his residence 
in Hungary he knew of several gipsy women w T ho 
were popular as public singers, and of one in par- 
ticular, whose voice was of such remarkable sweet- 
ness that she was almost constantly engaged in 
singing at concerts given in the private mansions of 
the rich and noble for many miles around, and for 
which she was always very munificently paid, 

Keverting, however, to English gipsies, we may 
remark that they seldom sing, having but few songs of 
their own. When the women attempt to sing they 
never aspire to anything beyond a simple ditty over 
the washing-tub, or a soft, low, lullaby to their dark- 
ey ed infants. Nevertheless, music, both vocal and 
instrumental, has charms even for this despised race, 
who, like more refined people, are susceptible to its 
soothing power. 

In days of yore, long ere our hills were tunnelled, 
our rivers crossed, or our valleys were invaded to 
make way for railway trains, it was sweet to listen 
to the wild music which, emanating from some gipsy 
camp in a secluded dell, mingled with the rich notes 
of the nightingale and other birds of song, just as 
the sun, on his vermilion car, sank below the 
horizon in the distant west. Although inroads have 
been made on the haunts of the gipsy tribes, and 
their music is not heard so often now as formerly, 
the old love of it still lingers in the tents, and lives 
in the hearts of this singular people. Their home 
life is now and then enlivened by music and dancing, 


especially when the women have had " good luck," 
and the men have been successful in their speculations. 
It is then they indulge, more than they usually do, 
both in eating and drinking. 

Much, however, as gipsies have been accused of 
being addicted to intemperate habits, we can con- 
fidently state, so far as our knowledge of them goes, 
that as a rule they do not habitually drink to excess 
in their own encampments. Still, it must be 
admitted that on the occasion of a wedding of two of 
their own race, intoxicants have been in some cases 
too freely indulged in. But this habit is not peculiar 
to them. 

As before intimated, it sometimes happens that 
after they have been favoured with a few of 
"fortune's smiles," they are so light-hearted and 
become so merry that a tune on the violin is pro- 
posed, to which all that are able and so dis- 
posed dance with great hilarity, especially to that 
known as "The White Cockade." But if gipsies 
indulge in old and well-known country dances, they 
are not ignorant of modern ones. Many of the men 
dance well, and the women and girls generally move 
lightly and elegantly, and all of them seem to enjoy 
the pastime. 

Although one of the worst traits of the gipsy 
race is a deep, dark, and bitter spirit of revenge, 
all those belonging to it cannot be justly charged 
with being worse tempered than other people. 
Many gipsies are quiet, patient, long-suffering, and 
often remarkably pleasant in speech. There are 
times, however, when their tempers get ruffled, 
and their anger excited. They do not always give 


notice of their pent-up wrath by previous grumblings 
and threats, but often have been known to blaze 
up suddenly, like one of their own camp-fires of 
dried sticks. One writer observes that 


do not often take place, but when they do they are 
dreadful. The laws of the country in which they 
sojourn have so far banished the use of knives from 
them that they only grind them, otherwise these 
conflicts would always be fatal. They fight like 
tigers, with tooth and nail, and knee and toe, and 
seem animated only with the spirit of demonism. 
Luckily the worst weapon they use is a stick. 

We have known gipsies sometimes come to high 
words among themselves about the most trivial 
matters, on which occasions they have applied to each 
other the most degrading epithets. These disputes 
have now and then resulted in severe pugilistic 
encounters between the men, and even some of the 
wives have contended with their husbands for fistic 

Jealousy, 11 the many-headed monster of the pit," 
is sometimes the cause of quarrels, and a source of 
great unhappiness amongst this people. If a gipsy 
husband should once entertain an idea that his wife 
has in any way wronged or deceived him, or been 
unfaithful to him, he becomes unhappy, unsettled, 
and vindictive, and will even go so far as to 
threaten to be avenged by the death of the offending 
and suspected parties. It is often very difficult to 
remove this jealousy, although the strongest proof 



may be given that the wife is innocent of the crime 
alleged against her ; and it is only after the lapse of 
a long time, and by the consistent conduct, constant 
attention and affection of the wife, that the husband 
becomes reconciled, or cheerful and agreeable as on 
former occasions. 

That this dark picture is not exclusively one of 
the life and character of gipsies, we have ample 
proofs in the daily accounts which appear in our 
newspapers, of quarrels and murders amongst those 
who have had greater advantages of education than 
has ever been the lot of these wandering tribes. 

The ill-feeling engendered by quarrels amongst 
the gipsies is not of long duration. A night's 
sleep generally suffices to soothe down all irritability 
of temper, and to calm the perturbed passions of 
their worst nature ; while sober reflection on 
the following morning, and the recollection that 
they are an isolated and despised race, seem to heal 
the breach between them, and to make them as good 
friends as ever. 

Notwithstanding the conditions imposed by the 
game laws upon sportsmen, and the power with 
which our rural police are invested, and the legal 
authority they have in arresting those who indulge 
in poaching proclivities, many gipsy men possess a 
rifle or duck gun, in the use of which they are both 
industrious and expert. But they take care that the 
game they kill shall be flying overhead, for which 
the reason is obvious. 

To say that they are never guilty of snaring and 
trapping ground animals would be concealing the 
truth ; but to assert that they are guilty of all the 


poaching acts for which they have been blamed 
would be incorrect It is not, however, by the above 
methods only that they sometimes secure a good 
dinner of animal food, but by the use of lurcher dogs, 
whose peculiarity is to hunt without making any 
noise, and then returning to the gipsies cautiously 
and quietly with a hare or rabbit they have 
succeeded in capturing. The lurcher is highly 
valued by the gipsies, and well trained by them for 
the special purpose referred to. 

Immoral as this people may be, the better sort of 
them will not allow the use of obscene language before 
their wives and daughters, Male members of the 
tribe thus offending are not onl; reprimanded, but, if 
contumacious, are often outlawed, at least for a time. 

When a dispute takes place between the members 
of the same encampment about any proposed plan for 
the attainment of a special object, or respecting 
the direction they shall take in their travels on the 
morrow, and the matter cannot be amicably settled 
between themselves, the presiding genius and arbiter 
is appealed to, whose authority is acknowledged, and 
whose decision at once ends the contention. 

We shall now adduce an example as an illustration 
of the truth of the statements we have just made, 


It was on a bright October morning a few years ago 
that we visited an encampment of gipsies, near the 
river Severn, who seemed to be "a little out of 
sorts p one with the other. Some incident or other 
had evidently disturbed them, for we saw on almost 


every face an expression of dissatisfaction and ill- 
humour. An unpleasant discussion on some difficult 
question had, it appeared, taken place among them, 
in the settlement of which they could not at all 
agree. The chief of the clan, who was then appealed 
to, exercising the authority with which he had been 
invested by the other gipsies, gave an order that the 
male adults should assemble at once at a given spot, 
which they immediately obeyed. It was to us an 
interesting and novel sight. There stood the chief, 
a stalwart fellow rather more than six feet high, and 
around him were grouped eight or nine men, all of 
whom were dressed in velveteen or corduroy coats 
and trousers ; two or three of them had on red plush 
waistcoats, the legs of most of the older men were 
enveloped in leather gaiters, and round their necks 
were coloured poshniknes, while the usual dome shaped 
broad brimmed hats were worn by nearly all of them. 
Noticeable in the group were two aged men, who 
leaned for support upon what looked like young ash 
saplings six or seven feet high. Indeed such was 
the general appearance, the bronzed faces, and dark 
hair of the men, that we might have fancied they 
were a band of North American Indians concocting 
some plan for a raid upon the homesteads of some 
European backwoods-men, whom they considered 
were intruders upon territory exclusively belonging 
to them. A few feathers and skins would have made 
the picture, according to fancy, almost complete. 

The point in dispute having been introduced was 
discussed with considerable earnestness by the gipsy 
men, and many pros and cons were advanced con- 
cerning it. The chief, after he had dismissed the 


assembly, informed us that the subject on which the 
gipsies could not agree was hardly of sufficient 
importance to justify either so much waste of time or 
the trouble it had involved. It was simply whether 
it was right or not for another gipsy to use the same 
hawking licence that bore the name of some one else 
belonging to their tribe. The chief said he told them 
it was illegal to do so, and that such a tiling was rather 
risky, and very likely to bring trouble upon those 
who might use the licence without proper authority. 
To this decision they were bound to accede ; whether 
the gipsies strictly carried out this idea or not we 
never had an opportunity of ascertaining. 

Although gipsies escape most of the disorders 
common in large towns, typhus fever is often fatal to 
them. Their dread of it and of the small-pox and 
measles drives them almost to distraction. They 
are not, however, more subject to rheumatic affections 
than other people. When they are afflicted by the 
last disorder they usually eat large quantities of 
mustard, as they believe it to be the best specific 
they can have recourse to for this complaint. 

Many gipsies have been accused of carrying in 
their pockets small bottles containing a liquid called 
*'drow t " which has a property not only intoxicating 
but destructive to animal life. This liquid the gipsies 
have been charged with pouring into pig troughs, 
knowing that at their next meals the pigs would 
take it with their food, and that death would quickly 
follow. Just about the time this takes place some 
gipsy or other is sure to be passing, to whom the 
owner of the pig or pigs is certain to make known 
his loss. An inquiry by the gipsy as to the disposal 


of the body usually ends in an offer of it for a very 
trifling sum, it may be a shilling or two, and in 
some cases the gipsy receives it without payment, 
conditionally that he will take it away at once. 
This is speedily done, and thus the gipsies have a 
good supply of food for some time to come. We 
may here remark that the "drow/* although fatal 
to life, in no way affects the flesh of the animal, 
or deteriorates its value. It is, however, right to 
state that this practice is resorted to only in cases of 
great hunger or extreme emergency. 

a gipsy's bill of pare. 

" There is no accounting for taste " is a common 
saying, and is particularly applicable to the gipsies 
as regards some kinds of food of which they fre- 
quently partake. We refer, first, to the hedgehog, 
whose flesh they prefer to hare or rabbit, and which 
an old gipsy woman once said, " was ever so much 
more delicate and flavourable than that of any other 
animal eaten in England." 

The gipsies sometimes roast the hedgehog before 
the fire, but their usual and favourite method, of 
cooking it is as follows : They first stun the animal 
by a heavy blow, then cut a slit in the skin the 
whole length of the back ; it is then enveloped in a 
coating of clay about half an inch thick, after which 
it is placed in a hole in the ground, and a fire made 
over it. When the clay is well baked it is taken 
out and broken, but the heat having caused the 
spines of the hedgehog to adhere to the clay very 
firmly, they are almost inseparable from it. The 


U>dy therefore comes out without the skin, and, 
being well-dressed and full of gravy, presents a 
tempting dish to the appetites of those for whom it 
may have been intended ; but as the animal is a very 
mall one, we hardly need say it is soon devoured. 

Snail soup is also another favourite dish of the 
gipsies, and one which old esculapian gipsy women 
recommend to persons in delicate health. In the 
month of February we visited a gipsy family who 
were staying in a lane not far from Wootton-under- 
Edge, The north wind was keen and strong, and 
as it swept through the leafless trees produced a 
doleful sound. Partially sheltered from it by the 
hedge and an old canvas tent sat a gipsy mother 
and three children belonging to the Locke tribe 
of gipsies. By the side of the smouldering embers 
stood a coffee pot without lid or handle filled with 
snail soup, which was to constitute the mid-day meal 
of this family. Although it was by no means 
unpleasant to our olfactory nerves, the idea of 
drinking or eating these slippery-looking creatures 
was too repugnant for us to accept the invitation to 
taste a little of it so kindly given by the woman. 

On one occasion when travelling through Hert- 
fordshire we saw a man some distance off, standing 
by a bridge which crossed a narrow stream running 
under the roadway, and very busily engaged in 
something which appeared to absorb the whole of 
his attention. When we reached the bridge we 
discovered the man was a gipsy, who, having picked 
up a capacious pocketful of snails, was taking them 
out one by one, and then, by striking them on a 
stone of the bridge, separated these slimy animals 



from their shells (which he threw away), but the 
divested bodies of which he put into his other pocket. 

Although we asked him in a very quiet, civil sort 
of way what he was going to do with the snails, he 
did not appear to be very well pleased with the 
question, for there was an expression both on his 
face and in his dark eyes which seemed to say, " It's 
like your impertinence to pry into other folks* 
business, so you had better walk on and attend to 
what may concern you more than asking me what I 
am doing or intend to do." But whatever he thought 
or felt, he made no rude remark, but spoke very 
civilly to us in explanation of his object in securing 
the snails. He said he was very "hard up" for 
money, and as he could not afford to buy animal 
food, he was going to have as good a meal as he 
could get out of stewed snails. Although we did 
not covet the gipsy's anticipated feast, we bade him 
good-morning, and left him to finish his work, the 
tfiought of which we felt was quite enough 
" To cloy the hungry edge of appetite." 


Many of the gipsies are now more choice and 
clean in the food they eat than they formerly were. 
Many of their women are capital cooks, and have a 
thorough knowledge of what constitutes an agree- 
able and substantial meal. 

We were once present when a gipsy family were 
dining. The repast was a plain and savoury one. 
It consisted of boiled rabbit and pickled pork, melted 
butter, and two or three different kinds of vegetables. 



after dinner the gipsies had tea, new bread and 
butter. The green sward was their table, over 
^hich they had spread a clean white cloth, and 
around it the members of this family were seated cross- 
legged, and apparently without feeling the least 
inconvenience from this half doubled-up position. 

The plates and dishes were of a superior kind ; the 
lids of the mustard-pot and pepper-box were of 
silver; the cream jug was of the same material; 
and they used ivory-handled knives and silver forks. 
We learnt afterwards that these things were not 
for every-day use, only when a visitor was expected, 
or on any very special occasion. 

There are, however, very many gipsy families 
who cannot afford these indulgences. Their food is 
often very scarce and coarse ; their cooking utensils 
are but few in number, and of the commonest kind. 
In what we have stated we see two opposite and 
distinct phases of the home life of these wandering 

Gipsies are fond of tea, but often use English 
herbs as substitutes. Both the men and women are 
partial to tobacco, which they smoke and chew, and 
in some cases swallow the juice. 


English gipsy men but seldom perform what may 
be called hard labour. Now and then one of them 
may be seen squatting under some sheltering hedge, 
or beneath his rude tent making clothes-pegs, or 
butchers* skewers, or it may be useful and fancy 
baskets. As before stated, some of those who live in 

k 2 


or near our large towns grind scissors, and mend 
cane-bottomed chairs, and some do a little in repair- 
ing umbrellas. Many gipsy men deal in horses, 
Welsh and Scotch, or Shetland ponies, and are in 
consequence generally seen at our fairs, buying or 
selling them. A gipsy family named Hearne, who 
had two or three horses and carts, earned a living by 
conveying gravel, wood, and coal for the gentry and 
others in the town of Uxbridge. 

The sale of articles, especially tin-ware, manu- 
factured by the gipsies, chiefly devolves upon the 
women. Young gipsy girls carry baskets containing 
a miscellaneous stock of useful and fancy articles, 
including nail and tooth brushes, combs, pins, needles, 
thread, thimbles, trinkets, finger-rings, gold-looking 
chains, small French pictures, boot and stay laces, 
buttons of many sizes, shapes and colours ; and 
in winter time worsted mittens, knitted by them- 
selves, may be seen in their baskets. These they 
offer for sale with the two-fold object of disposing 
of them and telling fortunes where they , see an 
opportunity, for an old dress or shawl, and Inoney 
where they can obtain it. 




courtship — Gipsy man and his pint measure full of 
sot e reigns — A wedding present — Marriage of William Lee 
and Ada Boswell— Gipsy wedding in a fland-pit — Fiddling, 
dancing, carousing — The author one of the spectators — A 
lady's misplaced affection — A marvellous and strange story — 
A gipsy chair-mender — The farmer's widow and gipsy 
Smith — The young mechanic and gipsy girl — Gipsy law 
about marriage — Birthn of gipsy children — Tho midwife, 
and gipsy child born one midnight under a hedge— Bap- 
tisms of gipsy children — CI a Lock and the rector — An 

interesting interview, 

I saw two beings in the hues of youth. 
Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill, * * • 
These two, a maiden and a youth, were there 
Gazing — the one on all that was beneath, 
Fair as herself ; but the hoy gazed on her ; 


The boy had fewer summers, but his heart 
Had overgrown his years, and to his eye 
There was but one beloved face on earth, 
And that was shining on him." Byron. 

Widely as the numerous tribes of mankind differ 
from each other in many of their notions, habits, 
customs, religious ceremonies, and dispositions, all of 
them are, more or less, susceptible to various human 
passions, especially to that called love, referred to 
in the above lines by Byron, and which in all ages 
and countries have produced tendencies and results 
of a similar kind. Marriages of men and women 
in some form or other are almost as universal as the 
passions which render them necessary. 

Gipsies, however ignorant and depraved they may 
be, are influenced by the same emotional powers as 
are those to whom we have just adverted. We 
shall therefore attempt to give some information on 
the marriage ceremonies, births, deaths and funerals, 
as they take place amongst the gipsies of this country. 
As by this nomadic race various preliminaries have 
to be attended to, and certain laws and conditions 
agreed to and obeyed before marriage can take place 
amongst them, we shall first briefly glance at 


We have been informed that gipsy custom and 
laws require the full consent of the parents or 
guardians on both sides before those of their tribe 
who are candidates for matrimonial honours can be 
united in wedlock either according to their own 
usage or the law of the land. They must be be- 


trothed two years previous to the marriage, during 
which period they are strictly forbidden to enter the 
camps in each others company, or to have any 
clandestine meetings beyond the place where they 
may be sojourning. Should they violate these rules 
the intended marriage may not take place, at least- 
no t amongst themselves, and the delinquents may be 
outlawed by the rest of the gipsies. 

It has sometimes happened when gipsy parents 
or guardians on either side have objected to the 
union of two of their young people that the latter 
have run away to another district, in the parish 
church of which their marriage ceremony has been 
performed. But although they have thus been 
legally made husband and wife, in some cases they 
have not rejoined their families until two years 
afterwards. If, however, the parents of the girl have 
ascertained that she has been kindly treated by her 
husband, they have forgotten all past grievances, 
and frequently shown their approbation by great 
generosity towards them, although they had at one 
time so much disapproved of their daughter be- 
coming the young gipsy's wife. 

Many gipsies are now married according to the 
of the Church of England, which some of them 
think to be much more binding upon them than 
their own mode or ceremony, so common amongst 
them even within our own recollection, 


A gipsy marriage was celebrated not long since 
in a village church near Bristol. When the party 


returned to the encampment in a lane not far off, the 
bride's father threw, a pint measure full of sove- 
reigns into the girl's lap, saying, "There's your 
wedding present, my child, and may God bless you." 

A few years since a gipsy wedding took place in 
the parish church of Hillingdon, near Uxbridge. 
The gipsies were gaily dressed, and the marriage 
was one of unusual parade and expense. On these 
occasions gipsies keep up their carousals for many 
days, during which time they spend large sums of 
money, generally hoarded up in small amounts for a 
long period previously and for the special purpose to* 
which we have adverted. On these occasions gipsies 
are singularly extravagant in the purchase of 
comfits, and such like sweetmeats, some of which 
are eaten, while not a few are scattered on the grass ; 
near and around their tents. The special object of 
this custom we have never been able satisfactorily to * 
ascertain. We have some reason, however, for "be- 
lieving that in the gipsy people there is a latent 
feeling of superstition connected with this practice, 
the observance of which they imagine constitutes a* 
favourable augury of future good to themselves as a 
race both collectively and individually. 

A few weeks since an account of a gipsy wedding 
appeared in one of our newspapers, which it 
describes as follows: " An interesting ceremony has 
been performed in Bunbury parish church, Cheshire, 
in the marriage of William Lee and Ada Boswell, 
two gipsies residing at Haughton. The bride was 
attended by one bridesmaid, Morgiana Lee, while the 
bridegroom was accompanied by his brother. The 
bride was attired according to gipsy custom in a 


dark green dress, with white lace apron and cap, and 
she also wore a wreath of gold leaves. The brides- 
maid was robed in a peacock blue velveteen dress, 
with white cap adorned with pink chrysanthemums. 
The service was performed according to the rites of 
the Church of England by the Rev. W. Lowe, 
Vicar, Afterwards, on the invitation of Mr, and 
Mrs. Garnett of Haughton Hall, who accompanied 
the parties to the service, the bride and bridegroom, 
together with a number of gipsy friends and compan- 
ions, went to the Hall, where breakfast was served 
in a gipsy tent on the lawn. Toasts were proposed 
in the Romany dialect. 1 ' 


It was on a cold morning in the month of Novem- 
ber some years since, that we started on a walking 
journey to a village about six miles away from the 
one in which we had slept during the previous 
night. The outlook was by no means a pleasant 
one. The roads were dirty, rough, and lonely- A 
thick fog hung over the landscape ; the leafless 
hedges seemed to come into view like grizzly bears, 
increasing in size as we approached nearer to them* 
The trees looked like gaunt spectres stretching 
their long trenchant claws, which, swaying gently, 
bo gently that their movement was hardly percep- 
tible, reminded one of the tentacles of the sea 
anemone, which that animal uses to secure any prey 
that may come within its reach. It was a cold, 
almost freezing kind of silence that surrounded us. 
There was not a sound which indicated the existence 


of active life, save that of otir own footfall in the 
rutty, chalky-mud road in which we were walking. 

We had proceeded on our journey a little over 
three miles when the silence was broken by the faint 
noise of some kind of music. We stood " stock-still " 
and gazed all round, but could see no sign of either 
animal or human being. We, however, resumed our 
journey, and as we proceeded the sound of music 
mingled with that of human voices reached our ears. 
On we trudged, and ere long came to an encamp- 
ment of gipsies in a sand-pit by the side of the 
dreary Yorkshire lane we had chosen, the sooner to 
reach our destination. 

The fog had by this time partly cleared away, so 
that there was no difficulty in comprehending by a 
few glances the whole scene now open to our view. 
If it was not Pandemonium represented, it was 
certainly the most exciting affair we ever witnessed 
in a sand-pit. In attempting a description of this 
novel spectacle we may refer to an old gipsy man 
with silvery hair, and bronzed wrinkled face, with 
but one eye, and who was standing on a little mound 
playing on a violin, which had only two strings to it, 
that well-known tune " Haste to the Wedding/' to 
which the younger gipsies were dancing with great 

There were several tents, at the openings of which 
fires were burning, crackling and blazing away as if 
to contribute their share to the general commotion. 
While some of the older women were watching the 
dancers, others were busily engaged in culinary 
preparations, which seemed to indicate that some- 
thing more substantial and agreeable than fiddling 


and dancing would follow by-and-by # This pic- 
turesque eight was apparently much enjoyed by the 
swarthy-looking masculine gipsy chief of this par- 
ticular encampment of gipsies, who stood with hia 
hands in his pockets steadfastly gazing upon the 

The chilly air of that November morning, the 
strange out-of-the-way place in which what we have 
already described was taking place, and likely to 
take place, so excited our curiosity that without 
invitation we walked up to the chief, bade him good- 
morning, and then asked him the cause of all this 
merriment, to which question we received a reply 
which indicated that he regarded our visit as an 
intrusion, and our interrogation as a prying and 
impertinent one. 

Whether this man, who bad been elected to the 
dignity and invested with the authority of Gipsy 
Chief, considered that this fact and the presence of 
his fraternity rendered the sand-pit far too sacred 
to be defiled by the imprint of a Gorjo's foot, we 
know not ; but seeing how matters stood, and that 
we were in a little danger of a summary ejectment 
by physical force from the place where we were both 
standing, and not liking the idea of having to 
beat an ignominious retreat, we made an apology 
for what the chief no doubt considered to be our 
want of courtesy to so dignified a person. That he 
bad graciously condescended to accept our apology 
was evident from the effect it had produced in him, 
not only in chasing the frown from his brow, but 
by inducing him to communicate to us in a very 
pleasant manner the information we had asked for. 


" Well," he said, " if you tcants to know, I'll tell 
you. We're going to have a wedding" 

" A wedding," we said, " what, here in this sand- 
pit? Is it not a very strange place for such a 
ceremony as a marriage to be performed in ? " 

We then took a survey of all the tents and their 
occupants, as well as of those engaged in the dance. 
The chief noticed this, and asked, "What are you 
looking for ? " 

u Looking for," we replied; "you said just now 
you were going to have a wedding of two of the 
young gipsies." 

"Certainly so, I told you that, and I thinks it's 
plain English, is it not ? " 

" Oh, yes," was our reply, " plain enough, to be 
sure, but it is not so plain that you have made all 
the necessary arrangements for such an event. I 
was, therefore, looking for the minister who is to 
join the young folks you speak of in the bonds of 

"Oh, you are looking for the parson, are you?" 
he said, and then laughed very heartily. "The 
parson, indeed," he repeated, and then said, "why 
lor bless you, sir, we gipsies never uses them sort o* 
things at our weddings; you may do so, but we 
generally manage the business without them. Now 
look here, as you seem to be a little bit curious and 
ignorant, too, about the matter, if you likes to stop a 
short time you shall see our way of making our men 
and women husbands and wives." Of course we 
consented to do so, and thanked him for the oppor- 

It appears the two young gipsies referred to had 


finished the period of their betrothal, aod were that 
morning to be married in true gipsy fashion* By 
order of the chief the music and dancing ceased. 
Two rows of gipsies with about twelve or fifteen in 
each row were formed, standing face to face, being 
between four and six feet apart. Half-way down 
between these rows two gipsies held up a broom- 
stick about eighteen inches above the ground. 

All being thus far in readiness, the chief called out 
the name of the bridegroom, who was a very hand- 
some gipsy man about twenty-two years of age. His 
hair and eyes were very dark, and the conformation 
of his face strongly indicated the race to which he 
belonged. He had on an olive-coloured velveteen 
coat, red waistcoat , and a glaring-coloured poshniknes, 
or kerchief, round his neck. In person he was tall, 
muscular, and well made. In obedience to the 
chiefs command he came from a tent at one side of 
the encampment, walked between the rows of gipsies, 
stepped over the broomstick, turned round, and then 
stood with his arms akimbo waiting the arrival of 
his intended wife. 

The chief then called out the name of the bride, 
who came from a tent at the opposite side of the 
encampment. She was about nineteen years of age, 
rather short of stature, apparently of a healthy and 
hardy constitution, while the pearly lustre of her 
eyes and long dark glossy hair seemed to identify 
her with the purest remnant of the gipsy race. She 
also walked between the two rows of gipsies, tripped 
very lightly over the broomstick, which she had no 
sooner done than the young gipsy man, in the most 
gentle and gallant manner imaginable, took her in 



his arms and completed the ceremony by giving his 
new-made wife some of the loudest kisses we ever 
heard in our life. 

While all this was going on we were standing by 
the side of the chief, gazing intently and curiously 
on the scene before us. " There now," said he, 
turning to us, " that's the way in which we manages 
our weddings ; they two be now man and wife, and 
I hope nothing unpleasant will ever part 'em; " and 
perhaps, as he thought to make a lasting impression 
upon our mind of what we had witnessed that 
morning, he gave us a tremendous thump on the 
ribs with his heavy elbow, which not only nearly 
took away our breath, but for a few moments 
all recollection of what had transpired. We how- 
ever soon recovered from the effect of what we 
shall always regard as the least expected, and we 
think the least intended, but certainly one of the 
heaviest sledge-hammer blows we ever received in 
our life. 

As soon as the ceremony was over, the music and 
dancing were resumed ; the whole of the members of 
the encampment had suspended business; prepara- 
tions for a good feast, indeed we have some reason 
for saying, for u a kosko romany hauben," were 
going on ; every face looked bright, and every heart 
seemed joyous. The men smoked, the women 
talked volumes, the children shouted and frolicked, 
the old horses grazed by the side of the banks, the 
donkeys nibbled their coarse food with a self- 
satisfied air, and looked as if conscious they were to 
have that day's respite from their weary toils ; even 
the two or three dogs that were there wagged their 


tails as if in anticipation of an extra feed, or of 
better and a larger quantity of rations than usual, 
even without the trouble of having to hunt before 
any dinner could be allowed them. 

Having remarked to the chief that their mode of 
marrying was not only a strange one, but so brief 
that it could hardly be considered as sufficiently 
binding upon the parties united in such a manner 
to induce them to fulfil all the legal, social, and 
domestic duties a married state necessarily imposes, 

** Never you mind about that," was the chiefs 
rather curt reply, " let me tell you that those young 
folks just married not only know what their duty is 
to themselves and to us too, but may be they'll carry 
it out, or attend to it, every bit as much as some of 
those do who get married in your fine churches, 
chapels, and such like places/' 

Time had sped on rapidly, and it was now past 
noon before we were reminded of the ostensible 
cause that had brought us into that lonely part of 
Yorkshire. After thanking the chief for allowing 
us to witness what we have described, and express- 
ing a hope that the newly wedded pair would be 
happy, we bade him a "cushty divvus," and went on 
our journey. Although we saw no more of this 
encampment of gipsies, we subsequently heard that 
they had kept up their carousals in the sand-pit for 
several days, and had been guilty of excess both 
in eating and drinking, having spent about fifty 
pounds on the occasion, 

A mere superficial acquaintance with gipsies, or a 
casual visit to their encampments, can never give an 
adequate idea of the variations incidental to their 


wandering life, which has its dark as well as its 
bright side. As we were walking along and 
musing over the scene we had just witnessed, as 
described above, we were forcibly reminded of a 
verse in one of Eliza Cook's poems, in which she 
graphically describes this one phase of gipsy life. 
The gipsy chief alluded to, in the treatment we 
received from him, and in the information he gave 
ns, practically said to us : 

" Our fire on the turf, and our tent 'neath a tree — 
Carousing by moonlight, how merry are we ! 
Let the lord boast his castle, the baron his hall, 
But the homo of the gipsy is widest of all. 
We may shout o'er our cups, and laugh loud as we will, 
1111 echo rings back from wood, welkin and hill ; 
No joy seems to us like the joys that are lent 
To the wanderer's life and the gipsy's tent." 

It is somewhat remarkable, as before noticed, that 
although some gipsy girls have been induced to 
marry men not of their own race, but very few 
gipsy men have married our women. But we may 
here assert that it is not because they have no 
opportunity to do so. Leap year, or no leap year, 
and strange as it may at first sight appear to the 
reader, many cases are known in which, not only 
peasant women, but even ladies have fallen in love 
with handsome gipsy men, have essayed the court- 
ing, and offered hand, heart, and fortune to them if 
they would but consent to marry them. But tempt- 
ing as most of these offers have been, the cases are 
very rare in which they have been accepted. The 
following story bears out the remarks we have just 


A lady's misplaced affectiox. 

Some years ago we knew a young gipsy man, 
who, on account of the conformation of his face and 
certain physical characteristics, might have passed 
muster for a genuine Spaniard. One day, as we 
stood chatting with him near his tent, he told us he 
was in a little difficulty, respecting which he wanted 
our advice, and then said he hoped we would give 
it Mm freely and as a friend. 

** Certainly," was our reply. u But what is the 
difficulty you speak of, George? " 

** Why, it's just this, sir,*' he said. u A short time 
since we were camping near a large fashionable 
town, where we were visited by great numbers of the 
respectable folks — gentry you calls 'etn — but there 
was one lady who came to see us every day, and I 
think we were worth seeing, as we numbered about 
gbcty men, women and children; well, it was soon 
noticed that the lady I speak about always made 
her way towards my tent. At last she spoke to me, 
asked me my name, and a lot more things like, some 
of which I didn't care about answering. That's a 
sort o* thing you must know we gipsies don't like. 
If we re asked no questions, we can't tell no lies in 
answering them, 

* Well, I couldn't make out how it was that this 
said lady should make a point of coming to chat 
with me. But I ought to have known — leastwise 
my brother, who was living with me, saw through 
it as clear as glass, 1 Why, George,' he said one day, 
4 that woman's in love with you, as sure as ever I got 


them ten shookories from that Gorjo the other day 
for a thing that wasn't worth one/ And he was 
right, for at last she said she loved me, and that she 
had tried to stifle the passion but couldn't ; and then 
she said she wanted to marry me, and that if I 
didn't consent she couldn't live, and she sobbed fit 
to break her heart. And then my heart came on 
awful, for I couldn't abear to see her in such a state. 
I was in a terrible fix, it came on to me so sudden 
like. It made my heart as soft as a mashed turnip. 
I could a sobbed too, but I didn't — I was fairly 
toppled over and couldn't find nothing to say. 

" But at last the lady became a bit calmer, and 
talked quiet, and then she said, 4 1 must go now, 
but will come again to-morrow, so between now 
and then you can make up your mind to grant me 
my wish.' She came ever so many times after 
that, and seemed to be more pressing at every 
visit; but I never give her a satisfactory answer. 
So one day, rather sudden it was, we packed up, 
left the place and came on here, but I'm afeard 
she'll find us out. I shouldn't wonder a bit to see 
her walk into the field one of these days." Just 
at this point of the conversation, George looked 
towards the gate, laid his hand on our arm and 
excitedly exclaimed, " Wafadou bok to it, but here 
she is as sure as I'm a Eomani-chal, and she's 
coming this way." 

Turning our eyes in that direction, we saw the 
lady who had been the subject of our conversation 
and the veritable cause of George's difficulty, coming 
rapidly towards us. As soon as she arrived she 
shook the gipsy by the hand. We then left the 


two in conversation, which was so prolonged that 
we were compelled to leave the field before it was 
over, and therefore did not see George until the 
next day. As the gipsy had asked our advice on 
the matter referred to, we endeavoured to point 
out the folly of supposing that their marriage 
could be a happy one* considering the great dis- 
similarity existing between their social positions. 

44 It would be natural for the lady/' we said to 
George, "to wish you to become a house-dweller, 
which from your innate love of freedom and nature 
you could never consent to do, or if you did you 
would become like a caged birtl, restless and 
unhappy. On the other hand, the lady could 
hardly be expected to submit to the hardships 
and wanderings of a gipsy life. And there can 
be no doubt that if she did so, time and a little 
reflection would produce an entire change in her 
mind and feelings. An intuitive longing for her 
old home, and the companionship of friends and 
relatives would strengthen as the novelty of her 
new life with you and her emotional impulses 
gradually declined and lessened in power." 

" You're right, sir,** said George. " What you 
have said are the very things I have thought 
a good deal about. I see that although it might 
be very bright and sunny for a bit, it couldn't 
last, and then we both might repent our folly and 
become very miserable. So, sir, that's a settler ; I 
shall refuse point blank to marry her, and so Til tell 
her the nest time she comes here, which won't 
be long first." George was firm in his resolve — 
be snapped the chain asunder— the lady was com- 

l 2 


pelled to bow to the gipsy's decision, which, we 
should imagine, time and reflection taught her was 
after all a very wise one, George, with the other 
gipsies left the locality for another, some forty 
miles off, but we never heard that the lady who 
had misplaced her affections ever paid him another 
visit. So ended this affair, which is no doubt 
sinking deeper in the waters of oblivion. 


Ascending Pentonville Hill one winter morning, 
we were accosted by a young woman carrying a 
baby, and offering for sale pocket-combs and other 
small articles she had in a basket. The habiliments 
of the woman, and her occupation, as well as the 
dark expressive eyes of the child, were so suggestive 
of gipsydom that we asked her if she belonged to 
the gipsy people. 

" Not exactly, sir," was her reply ; " although 
in a sense I do. I am the daughter not of gipsies, 
but of parents who belong to Norfolk, and who 
travel about the country with a van selling 
brooms, brushes, baskets, mats and such like things. 
One day in going our rounds we met with a 
young gipsy man, a chair-mender, who married 
me, and with whom I am now living in a house 
not far from the Caledonian Road, and as my 
husbands trade is a bit slack just now, I am 
trying to sell my goods to make a trifle by." 

From the answers she gave to some of our 
questions respecting her husband and her home 
life, we inferred that they were not the happiest 


couple in the world. In fact she intimated that 
more than once he had said to her, u You don't 
belong to my race, but to the Gorjos, for whom 
I have a great dislike ; I shall therefore leave you, 
find another woman of my own race, with whom 
I shall live proper, wander where I please, and 
be a good deal happier than I am now." The 
woman deemed to be in trouble, as she was 
evidently fond of the gipsy. We subsequently 
visited her residence, and found what she had told 
U3 was true, 

rne farmers widow and gipsy smith. 

We have been credibly informed that but a few 
years ago the widow of a Gloucestershire farmer fell 
in love with a handsome gipsy man named Smith to 
whom she got married in the church of the parish in 
which she was living. It appears that the gipsy not 
only made a very good husband, but learnt, under 
the tuition of his wife, to become a very good, 
practical sort of farmer. 

But it was with him as it has nearly always 
been with those gipsies who, after a life of un- 
restrained freedom for many years, have taken to 
house-dwelling, and in whom, however prosperous 
they may have been, the old love for liberty, and 
a predilection in favour of a wandering, restless, and 
ever changing state of existence, have become so 
strong that instances have been known in which 
such gipsies have absented themselves for a time 
from their new homes in order to spend it in the 
tents and company of their own people, So it 


was with Smith. His own race never appeared 
in the locality where he lived without a visit from 
him. In fact they had many inducements to go 
there, because as a farmer he was in a position 
to grant them many little privileges, and to add 
to their bodily comforts by the gift of a little 
straw, turnips and potatoes, as well as fodder for 
their donkeys, &c. He sometimes remained two 
or three days at a time with them, and had often 
said that if anything happened to his wife he 
should sell off and rejoin them, live as he used to 
live, and die among them. 


Referring again to gipsy women who have 
married our men,, in some cases those with plenty of 
money, and in others those who were mechanics, 
cattle dealers, peasants, miners, and small shop- 
keepers, we find, as in the case of gipsy men, the 
same unquenchable longing to become once more 
free from what they consider to be the fetters of 
our mode of life, to return to their own people, so 
that they may enjoy the wild kind of freedom in 
which they were born and nurtured, and which 
they consider to be the greatest charm of human 

The following authentic case corroborates the 
assertions just. made. In a southern suburb of 
London some gipsies, a short time ago, lived in vans 
and tents stationed on a piece of spare ground, for 
which they paid a weekly rent. During the day- 
time they plied their varied vocations amongst both 


the rich and poor residing in the neighbourhood. 
Belonging to this encampment was a young gipsy 
woman of somewhat prepossessing appearance, for 
whom a mechanic conceived a strong attachment, 
which she reciprocated. At length, although witli 
some difficulty, he prevailed upon her to become 
his wife, not, however, without incurring the dis- 
pleasure of the gipsies to whom she belonged - 

This mechanic husband took his gipsy wife to a 
very comfortable home, and provided her, as far as 
his means would allow, with whatever she wanted. 
Two or three children were the result of this mar- 
riage, for whom the mother showed the most tender 
affection, as well as love for her Gorjo husband. 
But even this and all her other domestic advantages 
were insufficient to make her thoroughly contented 
and happy. Not many months had elapsed before a 
predilection in favour of her old way of life showed 
itself, to the deep regret of her husband, who 
tenderly loved her. In fact it at length became so 
strong and apparent, as the mechanic's own brother 
told us, that the husband had very many reasons 
to fear that on some evening or other when he 
returned home from his labour, he should discover 
that his wife with his children had gone to rejoin 
her own people, which it appears she had often 
hinted to him she was sure to do some day or 
other. Whether she carried out this threat or not 
we do not know ; nevertheless it affords a strong 
proof (and there are other cases of a similar kind 
that might be cited) of the preference gipsies feel 
for that unrestrained liberty enjoyed by them in 
their erratic mode of life. 


When gipsy women marry men who are not of 
their own tribe (unless it be by consent of the 
parents, which is seldom the case), they violate one 
of the principal laws of the gipsies, who regard it as 
a crime altogether unpardonable. In some cases the 
girls have been outlawed, and sometimes, we believe, 
have never again been properly recognised either by 
their parents or friends. Now and then, however, 
they have been forgiven and restored to their 

The children of such marriages usually exhibit a 
tendency in favour of the mothers former habits of 
life, which she, by way of atoning for her crime, 
takes care to encourage, and which, in the majority 
of cases, the children adopt, and indulge in to the 
end of life. 


" A time to be born and a time to die " is a 
sentence uttered at a very remote period by Solomon, 
reputed to have been, at least in his day, the wisest 
of men, and has reference to two of the most im- 
portant events of all animal existences — the entrance 
into life, and exit out of it. But the surroundings 
and circumstances connected with both throughout 
the wide world of nature are widely dissimilar. 
When a prince or the child of some great personage 
is born the news must be telegraphed, or made 
known in some other way, to the remotest parts of 
the earth. Even those who move in much humbler 
spheres of life, when a child is born, must in accord- 
ance with fashion and their notions of respectability 
publish the event through our newspapers, as if it 


in the smallest degree added to the importance of it, 
or afforded any special interest to the public at large. 

The birth of a gipsy child is not usually made 
known by the means referred to; for who would 
spare even a thought about an infant gipsy, born it 
may be in a lane, under a hedge, or in the recess of 
some forest. Such an event is no more heeded by 
the majority of mankind than is the birth of a kitten 
or of a puppy, indeed, in many cases not so much. 
Little, however, as the birth of a gipsy child is 
known and regarded by the outside world, it is an 
event the gipsies look forward to with considerable 
solicitude, increased no doubt by the difficulties 
arising out of their own unsettled life. 

Whatever advantages the gipsies deprive them- 
selves of through their wandering habits, their 
neglect of education, and want of proper mental 
culture, they have always exhibited those qualities 
which constitute the true paternal character. 

Not long since three or four gipsy families were 
encamped in a long narrow field near the river 
Severn, where they were allowed to remain un- 
disturbed in consequence of one of the women 
expecting soon to become a mother. About eleven 
o'clock one night she was suddenly taken in the 
pains of child-birth. The husband hastened at once 
to the nearest place to obtain medical assistance. 
The doctor to whom he went happening to be from 
horne^ the gipsy was directed to a midwife, whose 
house he reached just about midnight To her he 
told his tale, and earnestly begged of her to return 
with him to the encampment, 

She naturally objected to go at that late hour to 


such a place and in company with such a man. The 
gipsy became importunate, and seeing her timidity 
and fear, assured the midwife she would suffer no 
harm, that he would conduct her in safety to the 
tent and back again to her own house. Affected by 
his pleadings and anxiety, she consented to accom- 
pany him, and both reached the tent just as the 
midwife's services were specially required. 

During the woman's stay with the gipsy wife the 
husband paced up and down the other side of the 
field in great suspense. When information was 
given to him that "all was right," he hastened to 
the tent, kissed his wife, and for the first time heard 
the feeble wail of his own infant child. He then gave 
the midwife a guinea, and conducted her safely back 
to her home. We knew this woman well by sight, 
and from her we received the foregoing information. 

As the birth of a child is generally followed by 
congratulations, and a little merry-making and 
festivity, even in different grades of society both 
high and low amongst ourselves, so the gipsies 
sometimes celebrate such an event in their own 
peculiar fashion. The bosh and the tumbo are brought 
into requisition, as well as a little brandy, to make 
them merry. Though no joy bells may ring, nor 
festive board groan beneath the weight of costly viands 
or sparkling wines by which to drink the health of 
the little gipsy stranger, yet the parents practically 
hail its appearance amongst them by saying 

" Here's a health to thee, bright health to thee ! 
Though not with wine our cup is flowing ; 
Wo pledge thee in the healthful breeze, 
The inspiring breeze around us blowing." 


The wanderings of the gipsies necessarily expose 
their women to many hardships and inconveniences 
unknown to those who lead a settled life. 

We once met a gipsy family in Wiltshire consist- 
ing of the father, mother, and three children, the 
youngest of whom was only ten days old, The 
mother said she had that morning walked five miles ; 
the poor creature looked pale and weak. They 
subsequently pitched their tent in a very lonely, 
damp lane bard by, where they rested for a time, 
during which the husband made clothes-pegs for his 
wife to sell. Unless some unexpected friend rendered 
them a little assistance they must have fared badly, 
as that part of the county was very thinly populated, 
and so offered but a poor prospect to these gipsies 
for the disposal of the clothes-pegs or of any oilier 
article they might have for sale. 

We know of instances in which gipsy women at 
their confinements have received great attention and 
many favours from humane and kind-hearted ladies, 
who have supplied them with food, and even linen 
proper and necessary for these occasions. 


Under the old poor law every child of unmarried 
gipsies belonged to the parish in which it was born, 
and in times of poverty the parents were liable to 
have their children taken from them and sent each 
to its own parish. Under the new poor law, how- 
ever, the child belongs to its mother's parish, Crabb 
says "that gipsies are now very careful to have their 
children baptized in the church of the parish to 


which they belong, with the idea that thereby they 
can lay claim to a little parochial relief, which they 
usually term * settling the baby/ The sponsors are 
generally members of the same family, and are 
always treated with great respect." But even to 
this rule we know of the following exception. 

On a chilly morning in winter several mothers 
had taken their children to the parish church of a 
small town in Gloucestershire to be baptized, the 
infant daughter of the rector being there for the 
same purpose. Another clergyman, however, was 
to perform the ceremony, and as it was about to 
begin a gipsy woman of the Lock family, with an 
infant girl on her arms, pressed eagerly towards the 
font. Some of the other women eyed the gipsy 
mother with disdain, and stepped aside as if afraid 
they would be contaminated by her touch. Gently to 
reprove them, the rector of the parish spoke kindly to 
the gipsy, and told her to present her child, which was 
baptized the first, and for which he stood as sponsor ; 
then followed the baptism of his own child, and then 
that of the children of the mothers referred to. 

Five or six years after this we happened to pass 
through a lane not far from where the above baptisms 
had taken place. In this lane were three tents, most 
of the occupants of which were absent. Sitting at 
the opening of one of the tents was a gipsy woman, 
and close by was her daughter, about six or seven 
years old, full of life and frolicsomeness, for, like a 
boyish-girl, she was amusing herself by taking long 
leaps by the aid of a stout stick — a pastime in which 
she had evidently frequently indulged. An inquiry 
elicited from the mother that her name was Lock, 


and that of her chdvo was C a Lock, i( Are you, 

then, the mother whose child was baptized in the 
church of W r about six years ago ? " we in- 

■ I am, my good gen'elnian, the very same and 
nobody else." 

"And that is the child who on that occasion 

received the name of C a, and which at the 

same time was given to the rector's daughter," we 

"You are quite right, mre" replied the gipsy 
mother. 11 Never was there a nicer genelman than 
the rector, nor a sweeter cherub than his child is. 
She ia with her parents now at the rectory, which is 
close by. But you see, sare 9 the two children, though 
having the same name, are no more alike than 
nothing. The one at the rectory ia like a little 
fairy, or a flower, very delicate and gentle; the 
other — the romping girl there — is the very opposite, 
hardy as can be, and as rough as a Shetland pony. 
But I'm happy to say she's always healthful like, 
and I may tell you that although she's a little game- 
some at times, she's a good girl, and loves her mother, 
and I love her, aye, that I do with all ray heart, and 
you know, mre, there's some comfort in that." We 
subsequently ascertained that the gipsy woman's 
description of the two children baptized in the same 
church and at the same time was truthful to the 

After the lapse of about twelve years we were 
again in the same part of Gloucestershire, and while 
standing at our garden gate inhaling the fresh 
breeze from the river Severn, a young gipsy woman, 


carrying a basket of tin-ware on her arm, saluted us 
with a " Good-day, save" and with a " What will 
you buy ? " " Nothing," was our reply. " May be," 
she said, " the good lady requires something — nice 
pepper-box, nutmeg-grater, gravy-strainer, patty- 
pan, kettle, iron-skewers, tin plate for the baby, tin- 
mug, small saucepan, spoons or a colander — all our 
own make, you know, sare, and all very useful. Do 
buy something, for it's poor luck I've had to-day." 

u And what is your name ? " we asked, " and 
where are you camping ? " 

" My name is Lock," she said, 66 and we are camp- 
ing on the common about five miles from here." 

" And is your first name C a, and did you 

receive it at your baptism at the parish church of 
W r ? " we asked. 

" My first name is what you say, and I've heard 
my mother tell our folks that I was baptized in the 
church you mention, along with a lot more, and that 
the good clergyman's daughter was baptized and 
had the same name given to her as mine." 

" Then you are the same girl I once saw, about 

twelve years ago, in a lane near C 1, making 

leaps with the aid of a stick as tall again as your- 
self, and which seemed to be a very favourite 
amusement of yours." 

" Oh yes, sare" she said, " that was me, no doubt ; 
aye, them was happy days, but they're gone, sare. I 
often wish I could live 'em over again, but I can't do 
that. My lot seems to be little else than hard work 
in long walks, sometimes a heavy heart, and often 
an empty pocket and stomach too. It's hard lines, 
is it not, sare, for a young girl like me ? " and as she 


finished her interrogation she looked into our face 
with a half saddened smile, and said again, u Do buy 
something, sare; you can't do better, I give you my 
word for that," 

We may here remark that this, to us, somewhat 
interesting colloquy ended to the advantage of the 
gipsy girl, as we exchanged a few shillings for some 
of her tin- ware, which lightened both her heart and 
her basket, indicated by very many * 4 thank yous," 
which she appeared to give with real sincerity and 

Although the incidents just related may not appear 
at first sight to have any direct connection with 
the baptisms referred to, they nevertheless derive 
a certain kind and degree of colouring from these 
ceremonies, conspicuously seen in the high opinion 
the gipsy mother and daughter had of the rector, 
as well as in their own long residence in the same 
locality, and by their ignoring those disreputable 
methods to obtain a livelihood which are adopted by 
so many of their own tribes. 

After the baptism of the child C a, the rector 

exercised a very beneficial influence over this gipsy 
family. Even the girl we have mentioned said 
nothing to lure us into a belief tbat by a super- 
natural gift she could reveal to us the events of our 
future life. She did not hint iu the slightest way 
that she knew anything whatever about the practice 
of fortune-telling. She spoke in no wheedling, 
canting tone of voice so commonly used by many 
women of her own race when they wish to accom- 
plish any particular object. 

There was much of candour in what she said ; 


there was no exhibition of artfulness, but a seemingly 
thorough straightforwardness and honesty of purpose 
in her efforts to succeed in her vocation as a seller 
of tin-ware. She made no attempt to deceive, or to 
make a dupe of us by flattery or ingenious strata- 
gems, which we are bound to confess are resorted to 
by many of the women belonging to her own people. 

We have ample authority for asserting that what 
we have stated were traceable to the moral influences 
of the clergyman, while those influences owed their 
origin to the circumstances connected with the 
baptisms of the children before adverted to, and 
especially to that of the rector's own child and of 
the gipsy infant who had received on that occasion 
the same name. 

During the last few years gipsies have attended 
much more to baptism than their ancestors were 
wont to do. For more than a hundred years after 
their introduction into England the gipsies paid very 
little regard to this religious rite. Crofton, in refer- 
ring to this subject, tells us that there are two entries 
in the register of St. Paul's Church, Bedford, as 
follows : " 1567 * Robartt ane Egiptic bapt. same 
daie" (viz. <k Marche xxxth daie"), and "1567 
Aprill — * John ane Egiptic bapt. xxvth daie." 
" Only three Roinani baptisms during the sixteenth 
century have heretofore been placed on record — of 
Joan, at Lime Regis, Dorsetshire, 14th of February 
1558; of William, at Lanchester, Durham, 19th 
February 1564; and of Margaret Bannister, at 
Loughborough, Leicestershire, 2nd April 1581." 

* There is some doubt as to the gipsy extraction of the 
children referred to. 




eory of a German philosopher— A human skeleton discovered 
in a field — Longevity of gipsies — Funeral of Lepronia Lee — 
A remarkable coincidence- — Grave of a gip&y scissors- 
grinder — Curious account of a gipsy funeral — Death of a 
patriarchal gipsy — A strange burial— Death and funeral of 
a gipsy queen—A gipsy king — Strange notions of the 
gipsies about the dead — Grief of gipsy mothers when a 
child dies — The tomb of a gipsy king — The king of the 
Orkney gipsies— Burial of the gipsy queen— An affecting 
scene — Death and funeral of Matilda Stanley — Under the 
yew tree — Burying valuable property. 

* Our life's a journey in a winter's day ; 
Some only break their fa*t t and so away ; 
Others stay dinner ; and depart full- fed, 
The deepest age but sups and goes to bed," 



We believe it was a German philosopher who, 
some years ago, propounded a theory as to what 
should be the average length of the life of a human 
being, and of other animal existences, especially 
those placed next to man in the scale of creation. 
The basis of his theory was that the natural term of 
life should be five times longer than the period 
required to bring an animal body to a complete 
and fully-developed condition. So that if twenty 
years are necessary to form the man, death is not 
a necessity under one hundred years of age, at 
which time men may be supposed to die a natural 

Interesting, however, as this subject may be, it is 
not our purpose to pursue it further than to remark 
that while accidents, inherited diseases, indulgence 
in bad habits, and many other causes shorten the 
span of human life, yet on the other hand a due 
regard to the simple requirements of the body, and 
the more natural we are in our mode of living, the 
more likely we are to be healthy, and to reach a 
good old age. 

Looking at the small number of gipsies that have 
been and are now in England, and then at the 
millions of men and women of our own race, we find 
that a larger percentage of the former live to a 
greater age than do those who live a civilized but a 
more artificial life. May it not be assumed that this, 
in a great measure, if not altogether, arises from the 
life of the one being much more simple and natural 
than that of the other. We think the truthfulness 
of this supposition must be admitted. 

The birth of a child at once points to another 


event, whether near or very remote matters not, 
and that is the death of the same body. Gold helps 
to purchase much that may contribute to the ease 
and comfort of human existence, and it may aid in 
preventing many causes of misery and suffering, but 
it cannot renew the lease of life. The strong and 
the weak, the opulent and the poor, the learned and 
ignorant, the peer and the peasant, the king and the 
cggar, the gay, the witty, and the brave, the most 
polite and refined, as well as the wandering gipsies, 
must alike bow to the fiat which has gone forth, 
** Thou shalt surely die." 

Sickness and deaths of the gipsies are causes of 
deep sorrow and lamentation among them, of which 
we shall give some instances in different parts of 
this chapter. We may here observe that although 
gipsies show much respect and affection fur the 
memory of departed members of their own tribe, 
there was a time when they paid but little attention 
to the sacred rites of burial. The roadside, the 
lonely lane, the field, and forest were in many cases 
the receptacles of their mortal remains. 

One morning, when but a youth, as we were 
strolling along a narrow lane in a secluded part of 
Yorkshire, we happened to peep through a gate into 
a small field, and there saw, a short distance off, 
some one with spade in hand removing the soil for 
some purpose we did not quite understand. Just as 
we reached the man at work, he had uncovered a 
human skeleton, with not a particle of flesh on it, 
Ivingat full length, not less than six feet long, and 
evidently that of a once powerful man. The bones 
were put into a willow-basket, where they remained 

M 2 


until the man who had found them obtained some 
loads of gravel which were required for some special 
purpose. When this was done the bones of the 
skeleton were put into the hole from which the 
/, ravel had been taken, then covered over, and there 
we believe they have remained ever since without 
being disturbed. Of course this discovery gave rise 
to many conjectures as to whose skeleton it could be, 
but no clue could be obtained to solve the mystery. 
It was, however, the general opinion of the villagers 
that the remains were those of a gipsy man, but 
whether he had met with foul play or had died of 
some disease they could not tell. One thing that 
favours the idea of his dying of some fatal sickness, 
and being buried as described, is that in this locality 
the gipsies were in the habit of encamping. 

Not only to the rite of baptism but to that also 
of the burial of their dead the gipsies attach much 
more importance than they formerly did. We shall 
now refer to a few instances of the 


respecting which we shall give some information we 
have derived from an interesting volume entitled, 
' Gipsy Tents.' The author says : 

" On the north side of Little Budworth church- 
yard, near Delamere Forest, Cheshire, there is, or 
was, a large stone on the ground, bearing inscrip- 
tion, 6 Here lies, in hope of a joyful resurrection, the 
body of Henry Lovett, who departed this life the 
27th day of January, 1744. Aged 85 years. He 
died a Protestant.' " 


c 'In Turvey churchyard, Bedfordshire, is an epi- 
taph in memory of James Smith (a gipsy), who died 
May the 10th, 1822, aged 105 years, on whom the 
Rev. Legh Richmond wrote the following lines: 

" 1 Here lies Jim, the wandering gipsy, 
Who was sometimes sober, hut oftener tipsy ; 
But with the world he seemed to thrive, 
For he lived to the age of one hundred and five/ H 

C( Tinkler Billy Marshall, who was horn at 
^irkmichael, Ayrshire, in 1672, died at Kirkcud- 
k*~Sght, 28th November, 1792, at the age of 120 


"Anne Day, who was buried at Arlsey, Bedford- 
shire, in March, 1799, attained to the age of 108 

"Henry Boswell, reputed king of the gipsies, 
^Vas buried at Ickleford, near Hitchin, Herts* 
-^ged 90." 

"King Joseph Lee died in 1844 at Beaulieu, 
Hants, at the age of 86 years. Some years before 
he had given his grandchild (Charity) one hundred 
spade guineas and much silver plate for dower." 

Mr. Crabb, in his 1 Gipsies* Advocate/ tells us of 

**a woman of the name of B who lived to the 

reputed age of 120 years, and up to that age was 
accustomed to sing her song very gaily/' He also 
says that ** in his tent at Launton, Oxfordshire, died 
in the year 1830, more than a hundred years of age, 
James Smith, called by some the king of the gipsies. 
By his tribe he was looked up to with the greatest 


respect and veneration. His remains were followed m 
to the grave by his widow, who is herself more 1 
than a hundred years old, and by many of his 1 
children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and ] 
near relatives, and by several individuals of 
other tribes. 

u At the funeral the widow tore her hair, uttered 
the most frantic exclamations, and begged to be 
allowed to throw herself on the coffin, that she 
might be buried with her husband/' 

Lovell, the gipsy scissors-grinder referred io in m> 

the second chapter, died at the age of 95 years, and 
his wife at about the same age. 

Myrick Lock and his wife, who are buried in«=an 
Hillsley churchyard, Gloucestershire, lived to be— » c 
respectively 99 and 101 years old. These were th^^e 
progenitors of the Locks referred to in the las*~-*t 

Some time since we had some conversation with a^^ 8 
gipsy woman of the name of Buckland, then liviug^^? 
at the outskirts of the forest of Dean, who told v^m n 
she was 85 years old, and had that day walke<^3 
about five miles to see the doctor, as she didn't 44 fee"-? 
quite well." 

We have been informed on good authority th&~£ 
some years since a gipsy woman, 104 years old, wajsf 
an inmate of one of the workhouses in Essex. 

About eight years since a woman, of gipsy birth, 
named Leatherhead, died at Tring, Hertfordshire, 
at the advanced age of 115 years. She was very 


active, and a hard worker almost to the end of her 
life, and retained the use of her sight and hearing to 
a marvellous degree. She had been for some time a 
house-dweller, and had worked in the harvest field 
not many weeks before she died. 

It is reported that at Balsham, Cambridgeshire, 
old Charley Gray, a gipsy, chose a grave close to 
the church door, because he thought it would be 
lively on Sundays when the folks gossipped there. 


a great favourite of her tribe, who some time ago died 
near Ipswich, will, we think, be read with interest. 

m The greater portion of the tribe were at Kirton 
Church at the time of her death, and when it 
became known the mourning and lamentations were 
dreadful The deceased was interred in Kirton 
churchyard, the procession being headed by a hearse, 
after which followed the two sisters and cousins of 
the deceased, dressed in white muslin corded with 
white silk, their heads covered with white veils 
reaching almost to the ground. The men wore 
black silk hatbands tied with white ribbons, white 
gloves and neckties. 

** The women of the tribe were in deep mourning ; 
many hundred persons came from all parts of the 
district to witness the procession. The greatest 
decorum was preserved throughout, and shortly after 
their return from the grave the members of the tribe 
separated for their various destinations. The tribe 
appeared to be in affluent circumstances, and con- 
sisted of the Lees, Youngs, and Smiths/' 



It was early spring time when, not many years 
ago, we visited some gipsy families encamped not 
far from where we were at that time residing. In 
our conversation with one of the gipsy women, 
who was about fifty years of age, and in personal 
appearance a model of neatness and cleanliness (at 
least, for a gipsy), we happened to refer to the 
funeral alluded to, and to mention the name of the 
deceased gipsy girl. Language fails to describe 
the intense emotion which was produced in this 
woman when we uttered the name of Lepronia Lee. 
The effects of an electric shock could hardly have been 
more perceptible. The red tinge of her cheeks seemed * 
to pale, and looking up into our face with her dark, 
lustrous eyes, said excitedly, " Will you read the 
paper to us, good gentleman? Do, if you please 
sare." Before we began, two or three gipsy women 
from the adjoining tents came to listen. The paper 
alluded to was the cutting from the newspaper con- 
taining the account of the funeral just described, 
and which we happened to have in our pocket-book 
at the time. 

Before we finished reading the auditors were 
visibly affected, tears stood in their eyes, and the 
woman who had made the request for us to read 
exclaimed with strong, but suppressed emotion, 
u Ah, sare, that was my dear daughter you have 
been reading about Oh, how I miss my darling ! 
I shall never get over my trouble, I know I shan't. 
She was such a good girl ; it seems very hard, and 


although she may be better oft*, I can't help grieving 
about her," and the bereaved mother wept bitterly. 

In a few minutes a number of gipsies had gathered 
to the tent to listen to the second reading of this 
account of the funeral referred to. The women held 
their faces in their hands and sobbed aloud, the 
children looked grave and concerned, and the men 
stood with their heads uncovered, as if to do 
honour to the memory of her nearly all of them had 
known, and some of them had loved so well. Every 
member of that gipsy group seemed to share the 
sorrow that was felt by the mother and the two 
sisters of Lepronia Lee. 

Is it not evident from the above statements that 
to say " all gipsies are not only rudTE and ignorant, 
but wanting in natural affection," is a libel upon 
them as a race f a 


We once visited the churchyard of the village of 

K in Hertfordshire which is the resting-place 

of a gipsy chief, A humble stone, bearing a short 
inscription, marks the spot. We were informed that 
his funeral was attended with more than customary 
honours — the coffin was a very costly one, a crown, 
sceptre, and other insignia of gipsy royalty being 
placed upon it. He was borne on the shoulders of 
six men of his own fraternity to his grave, which 
is often the meeting spot of many of his survivors, 
who still cherish the remembrance of the name and 
deeds of their departed chief. 

These meetings, however, usually terminate by a 
visit to the village inn, where the gipsies sometimes 


drink to excess, and become, not only convivial, but 
a little troublesome before starting for their several 


In passing through Yatton, a village in Somerset- 
shire, some time ago, we went into the churchyard 
where lie the bodies of Isaac Jowles and his wife. 
Old Isaac, though not gipsy born, married a gipsy 
woman, with whom he lived to the end of her life. 
At the head of her grave is a stone, having on it the 
following inscription, written by her husband, who 
survived her but a short time — 

m Here lies Merrily Jowles, 
A beauty bright, 
She left Isaac Jowles, 
Her heart's delight." 


This appears in a number of ' Notes and Queries * 
of June 6th, 1857. " A gipsy was ill of pleurisy, 
and was bled twice ; when the assistant surgeon went 
he was sent about his business (gipsies object to 
blood letting). He died, having expressed a wish 
to be buried in his best clothes, which consisted of 
a velveteen coat with half-crowns shanked for buttons, 
and a waistcoat with shillings for buttons ; but the 
woman who lived with him ran away with them, so he 
was buried in his second best, without a shroud, and 
in the best of coffins ; he had a hearse with ostrich 
plumes, and fifty gipsies, men and women, followed." 

What afterwards took place is thus described by 


an eye witness: "As soon as the gipsies returned 
to the encampment they burnt his fiddle. A right 
good fiddler he was too, and niany's the time I've 
danced to him at our wakes ; and then they burnt a 
lot o' beautiful Witney blankets, as good as new; 
and then they burnt a sight o* books, for he was a 
scholar — very big books they was too. I specially 
minds one of 'em, the biggest of the hull lot, A 
book of jawgraphy, as 'd tell you the history o' all 
the world, you understand, sir, and was chock full 
o* queer outlandish pictures ; and then there was his 
grindstone, that he used to go about the country 
with grinding scissors, and razors, and such like ; 
they couldn't burn him, so they carried him two 
miles, and then hove him right into the Severn; 
that's true, for I was one as helped 'em to carry it.' f 


The following account appeared in the Stafford- 
shire Advertiser about eight years ago, ** Major 
Boswell, who for the last seven years has made a 
tent on the Stone Road, Longton, his principal place 
of abode, died on Sunday, at the advanced age of 
108 years. The body is Maid out' in characteristic 
gipsy style. He * lies in state ' on a bed on the 
ground, covered with a white sheet, and a tuft of 
grass on the chest. The old man has not a wrinkle 
on his face, had lost only three teeth, and never 
consulted a doctor during his long earthly pilgrim- 
age. He was twice married, and had by his second 
wife seventeen children, amongst whom he num- 
bered fifty-nine grandchildren," 




The following note on Romani funeral rites was 
communicated to * Notes and Queries * by Mr. John 
E. Cussans, May 15th, 1869. "A labourer told me 
that, about forty years ago, an old gipsy woman 
died near Littlebury, Essex. The body was swathed 
in clothes, and laid upon trestles by the encampment. 
Over the head and feet two long hazel twigs were 
bent, the ends thrust into the ground. From these 
hung two oil lamps, which were kept burning all 
night, while two women, one on either side of the 
corpse, watched, sitting on the ground. The follow- 
ing day the uncoffined body was buried in Littlebury 
churchyard by order of the local authorities; not, 
however, without great opposition on the part of 
the deceased's friends, who wished to bury her else- 


The name of this notorious woman was Margaret 
Finch, who was born at Sutton, 1631, and was buried 
at Beckenham in October, 1740, at the great age 
of 109 years. After travelling all over England, 
she finally settled at Norwood, in Surrey, where she- 
was commonly known as Peggy Finch, queen of"" - 
the gipsies. Being very adroit in the practice o^ 
fortune-telling, by palmistry and other methods 
she attracted great numbers of curious visitors, bj^ 
whom she made a considerable amount of money - 
She appears to have been very fond of snuff anc=3 


London porter, and during the last eleven years of 
W life had a habit of sitting on the ground with 
her chin resting on her knees, and generally with 
a pipe in her mouth, her constant companion being 
a small dog, of which she was very fond. In con- 
sequence of sitting so many years in the cramped- 
up position referred to, her sinews became so con- 
tracted that when she died they could not straighten 
her body, and therefore were compelled to inclose 
it in a deep square box, in which she was buried. 
Alalcolm says, "Her remains were conveyed in a 
hearse, attended by two mourning coaches, to 
Beckenham, in Kent, where a sermon was preached 
on the occasion to a great concourse of people who 
assembled to witness the ceremony, 

** We are informed that Bridget, Margaret's niece, 
x^igned in her stead. When she died she was worth 
«tbove £1000 — was buried at Dulwich 6th August, 


The gipsies and their life, with all that is romantic 
about them, have not only furnished themes for the 
pen of the historian, and subjects for the pencil of 
the artist, but even poets, by their fertile effusions 
elegance of language, have sung the praises of 
ly of them in the ideal regions of greatness, 
dignity, and royalty. 

The following verses* are part of an elegy 
written for the king of the gipsies, Charles Lee, who 
died in a tent near Lewes, August 16, 1832, aged 

• From the Mirror, vol. xx., p. 285. 


74. He was buried in St. Ann's churchyard in 
presence of a thousand spectators : 

" Hurrah ! hurrah ! — pile up the mould ! 

The sun will gild its sod ; — 
The sun — for three score years and ten 

The gipsy's idol God ! 
O'er field and fen, by waste and wild, 

He watch'd its glories rise, 

To worship at that glorious shrine 

The Spirit of the skies. 

With glow worm lamp and incense cull'd 

Fresh from the bean field's breath ; 
And matin lark, and vesper thrush, 

And honey-hoarded heath ; — 
A throne beneath the forest boughs, 

Fann'd by the wild bird's wing ; 
Of all the potentates on earth, 

Hail to the Gipsy King." 


This people have a singular custom of burning all 
the clothes belonging to any deceased member of 
their tribe, with the straw and litter of his or her 
tent. Whether this arises from fear of infection, 
from superstition, or because it is simply a custom 
handed down amongst them from generation to 
generation, we have not been able positively to learn. 
The following story is curious, interesting, and well 
authenticated, our informant being one of our own 
sisters, who was both an eye and ear witness of what 
we are about to refer to. 

It appears that in the month of November, 1873, 
a gipsy family, consisting of an aged woman, her 
son, his wife, their daughter and three sons, pitched 


their tents very near a farm house in the parish of 

W , Yorkshire, where they were permitted to 

remain for three weeks by the farmer, who not only 
had confidence in their honesty, but gave them 
straw, milk, broth, potatoes, and other things during 
the whole time they were there. 

At this period the farmer's infant child was 
dangerously ill. The occupants of the tents often 
enquired after its welfare and went to see it. The 
child, however, died, and the gipsies when they 
beard of its death seemed to feel great sympathy 
for the bereaved parents, On the same day, when 
our sister was returning from the farm house to 
her own home, she met the gipsy daughter, about 
eighteen years old, who asked after the child, for 
fihe was not yet aware of its death. When told 
it was dead, " Oh ! dear " she exclaimed, ** I am 
very, very sorry, poor dear sweet babe, I should eo 
much like to see it. You know, my good lady, the 
*ooni where the corpse lies will be full of beautiful 
bright angels, because she was so young, so pure, 
ind bo innocent." She then asked, H What are they 
joing to do with its clothes ? * 

** They may probably keep them in remembrance 
>f it,** said our sister. 

** That would be very wrong, 1 ' said the gipsy 

^ What would you do with them?" she was 

u We should burn them," said the gipsy, very 
emphatically. " Our people always do, it is our 
custom ; we don't think it right to keep the clothes." 
She however assigned no reason for this custom, 


which, as before intimated, is everywhere observed 
by this wandering race, especially when death is 
caused by fevers. 

Gipsies, as well as other people, often feel poig- 
nant grief when they lose their friends or children 
by death. " My little brother died, sir, about a 
month ago," said a gipsy boy to us in answer to 
some enquiries we were making about the boy's 
family, whose name was Carter, and who were 
tenting at the time near Bristol. 

" Is your mother now at the tent ? " we asked* 
" Oh, no, sir," replied the boy ; " mother's gone to 
1 the village to try to sell some clothes-pegs, as my 
father makes; but she's very bad, sir, and almost 
worn to a shadow, all through fretting about the death 
of my brother. She hasn't eaten anything scarcely 
for a whole month, and she is got so thin, and 'is 
altered so much you would hardly know her," said 
the boy, who seemed to be much affected by his own 
simple story of his brother's death, and by his 
mother's grief for the loss she had sustained. 


The following interesting information respecting 
the above has just been communicated to us by the 
rector of the parish in which the gipsy is buried. 
It appears that originally the tomb of Inverto 
Boswell was an altar tomb in the churchyard at 
Calne in Wiltshire, and that when the church was 
restored by the predecessor of the present rector, 
the altar tomb was done away with, and the two 
side stones with inscriptions were built into the 





outside wall of the south porch. Our informant goes 
on to say, ** I have been told that my predecessor 
disliked the gipsies, and bad no desire to preserve 
the tomb of one who is traditionally regarded in 
Calne as king of the gipsies, but the stones are much 
more likely to be preserved from destruction, and to 
be noticed in their present position, than if they had 
been left in the tomb, 

<f I am informed by old inhabitants that the tradi- 
tion in Calne is that Inverto Boswell was king of 
the gipsies, and that for many years after his death 
gipsies assembled in Calne, and performed some sort 
of rites, supposed to be religious ones, at his grave ; 
the rites are believed to have been of a heathenish 
character ; of all this there is no indication in the 
inscription of the tomb* 

" There are two stones, one from each side of the 
mb, and between them there is a carved stone 
representing a circular wreath inclosing a rearing 
horse with flowing mane and tail. One inscription 
is as follows : — * Under this tomb lieth the body of 
Itn\rft> BosweH, son of Henry and Elk. Boswuli, who 
departed this life the 8th day of February, 1774, 
aged 36. The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken 
away ; blessed be the name of the Lord/ 

"The inscription on the other stone is almost 
the same ; but instead of the Scriptural text there is 
ne of the usual religious verses. So far as I can 
see there is nothing on the stone to confirm the 

We may here observe that expensive tombs, such 
as the one described, are rarely erected in memory 
of gipsies; but that wherever one of them exists we 



may assume that the deceased had either wished it 
to be erected, and left sufficient money for that pur- 
pose, or that having, as king or chief, distinguished 
himself by deeds of heroism so much admired by the 
gipsies, his survivors have at great expense had 
the monument placed over his remains, in order to 
show their respect for his memory. There can be 
little doubt that Inverto Boswell's tomb had been 
erected for one, and probably for both reasons we 
have just assigned. 


The following information appeared in the Daily 
Chronicle j March 14, 1884. " William Nowland, 
the king of the Orkney Gipsies, has just died, at the 
advanced age of 102 years, the record of his age 
being known from the fact that he was born in the 
island of Westray. The deceased was a remarkably 
strong man, retaining all his faculties to the end, 
and was notorious among various gipsy tribes for 
the many hard fights he had to go through for 
what he considered the honour of his family. His 
funeral, which took place in the parish churchyard 
of Stromness, was a peculiar one in many respects. 
The attendants were mostly relatives, prominent 
among whom was his widow, a gipsy over ninety 
years of age, and who, during the time the clergy- 
man was offering up prayer over the grave of her 
departed husband, coolly smoked her pipe, which 
was passed round to the other female mourners. 

" A remarkable fact in connection with the Orkney 
gipsies is that a death amongst them is hardly ever 


known by the general public, it being apparently 
their habit to keep such events secret. This is only 
the second burial known to have taken place within 
the memory of the present generation." 


" The gipsy queen of the United States, Garni iu 
GefFerie, has lately died, and was buried at Dayton, 
Ohio. From all parts of the country members of 
her tribe came to attend the ceremony, and on 
the evening before the burial took place about 
1500 gipsies were camping outside the town. Im- 
mediately after her death the queen was embalmed, 
and then brought over to Dayton, where her tribe 
own considerable possessions in land, as well as a 
large piece of ground in the Woodland cemetery, 
where the former king and queen of the gipsies are 
buried. The funeral service was conducted in the 
ordinary way by the clergyman and church choir. 
The coffin was then enclosed in a large stone box 
at the bottom of the grave, beside the coffin of the 
queen's daughter, who died ten years ago. When 
the heavy stone lid was being placed on to the 
coffins, the sons and daughters of the deceased 
jumped howling into the grave, sobbing and kissing 
the wood. It was only after some time that they 
could be persuaded to come out of the grave. Then 
the stone lid was fastened down and covered with 
earth. The queen's monument, which is to be 
erected on the grave, will be a life-sized figure of 
her late majesty. Thus does civilization spread evon 
among gipsies/' — Pall Mall Gazette^ June f>, 1884. 

n 2 



The following information was given to us by a 
gentleman living at the time in the town of Sudbury, 
and who was acquainted with all the details and 
circumstances of the painful occurrence we are about 
to relate. It appears that not long since a gipsy 
man and his wife were tenting in a lane not far 
from Sudbury in Suffolk, Special business called the 
gipsy man away to another district, where he was 
detained four or five weeks. During his absence his 
wife was seized with a severe illness, and being poor 
and helpless, the parish authorities had her removed 
to the Sudbury workhouse, where she was attended 
by the doctor, and supplied with everything neces- 
sary under the circumstances. She however died in 
a few days, and was buried near the wall of the 
churchyard adjoining the workhouse. 

As no one, not even the wife, knew of the where- 
abouts of the husband, no lettef could be sent to 
acquaint him 'with what had taken place. On his 
return, the painful fact of his wife's death was made 
known to him. He hastened at once to the church- 
yard, and when her grave was pointed out to him» 
he stood over it and wept as if his heart would have 
broken. His mental agony became so intense that 
he threw himself full length upon the grave, and 
sobbed like a child. After this outburst of sorrow 
he gradually recovered from his prostration of mind 
and body ; he then took his pocket-knife, and with 
it cut a deep cross on one of the bricks of the wall at 
the head of his wife's grave, so that he might always 


now where her remains were buried. Although 
lis simple cross was the only monument he could 
lord to leave behind him as a future guide to him- 
slf, as well as a memento of affection for his wife, 
3 subsequently showed, by frequently wending his 
ay to her grave, that lie not only felt the loss he 
ad sustained, but that he cherished the memory of 
er of whom he had been so unexpectedly deprived. 


According to an account given in the Christian 
Vorld of October 4, 1878, it would appear that 
[atilda Stanley, called the queen of the American 
ipsies, died on the 4 previous February , and was 
uried a fortnight afterwards at Dayton, Ohio, in the 
resence of 20,000 spectators. " The body of the 
ite queen was embalmed in such a manner as still to 
*tain the natural aspect of life. The body was 
laced in a vault, and each day the reigning king, 
evi * Stanley,' or some member of the queen's 
inily, visited the spot, and strewed the body with 
loice flowers/' 


A few years since we were informed by a gentle- 
ian residing in a village in Gloucestershire that a 
lort time previously a gipsy man had died in his 
snt, pitched in a lane close by. His survivors 
ishing to show all due respect, and to do honour to 
lis departed member of their tribe, applied to the 
lergyman of the parish to allow a vault to be made 
nder the porch of the church in which to bury the 


deceased, and for this privilege offered a large wrf* 
of money ; but the request, for some reason, coulcf 
not be granted. The gipsies, however, succeeded in 
having the body interred under a wide-spreading 
yew tree standing in the churchyard, for which they 
unbegrudgingly paid an unusually high fee. 

In choosing this place of interment, the idea of 
the gipsies appears to have been that the yew tree 
would afford partial protection to the departed from 
the severe cold and storms of winter, as well as a 
cooling shade from the intense heat of summer. 

It is by no means an uncommon thing for gipsies 
to have the graves of their deceased friends and 
relatives kept in good order, and flowers planted on 
. them, for which they often pay five shillings yearly 
to the sextons of village churchyards. 

Leland, in his work * English Gipsies,' says he 
was given to understand " that when gipsy men or 
women die, their friends don't care to hear their 
names again — it makes them too sad; so they 
are changed to other names." The same author also 
refers to a form of respect for the departed among 
gipsies, to the effect that they bury some object of 
value with the corpse. He was informed that in the 
coffin of one gipsy a new beautiful pair of shoes 
were put ; " also " that three thousand pounds were 
hidden with ojie of the Chilcotts ; " and that " some 
of the Stanleys were buried with gold rings on 
their fingers."; 




ointe in which Jews and gipsies agree and differ — Gipsy specu- 
lators — Money-makers, and misers — Wandsworth gipsies — 
A cup of gold tea — An eccentric gipsy woman — Gipsy 
vanity — Arnold Smith, a gipsy horse-dealer — Silver coin 
shanked for buttons— Gipsy ball in a field — Gay ami 
costly droflOOB and jewellery, &<\ — An intruder threatened 
with a gipsy castigation — Two gipsy girls and the 
jeweller — Gipsy notions of pawnshops — Borrowed money — 
Law of honour, and how carried out. 

We are poor we must confess, 
But wo lovo life none the less \ 
Others may havo hoarded wealth : 
We can boast of rosy health : 
Whenever we please, we roam or rest, 
Contented at homo like a bird in its nest. 


As some theorists believe the gipsies to be of 
Israelitish origin, we shall now endeavour to show 
how far this view can be supported. Although the 
Jews were at one time a favoured and mighty 
nation, and are now scattered over the face of the 
earth, they believe that at some future time they 
will be gathered again to their own land, where they 
will live in peace, have their own kings, and be 
governed by their own laws. 

The gipsies have a similar tradition, pointing 
back many hundreds of years, to the effect that, like 
the Jews, they were also a great nation, had their 
own rulers, laws, and system of government ; and 
that although now dispersed far and wide, and like 
the offspring of Ishmael, living u with their hand 
against every man, and every man's hand against 
them," yet the time will arrive when they will be- 
come as great a people as they formerly were. 

Equally with the Jews, and in spite of the climate 
in which they dwell, and mixing as they do with all 
nations with whom they are compelled to transact 
business; and affected, as they must be, by the 
customs, religious and political influences of these 
nations — they nevertheless retain their nationality 
and physical characteristics, by which they are easily 
distinguished from the rest of mankind. In the 
above particulars the histories of the Jews and 
gipsies are strikingly similar. 

In pursuing this subject we discover, however, 
that in many other respects they are widely different. 
The majority of Jews live in towns and cities ; are 
men of great commercial enterprise and activity ; 
many of them are marvellously successful as dealers 


in most costly merchandise, and in some cases are 
immensely rich. They have among them men of the 
highest classical attainments; many eminent com- 
poser^ musicians, artists, poets, philosophers, phy- 
sicians, astronomers, mathematicians, philologists, 
and linguists. Some of them have attained, not 
only municipal honours, but great popularity as 
members of our Parliament. 

The gipsies, on the other hand, are dwellers in 
tents pitched in lanes, by the woodside, or on 
commons, and often on small plots of waste land. 

Their commercial transactions are confined to 
buying and selling horses, and in many cases to 
small articles for domestic use, which they themselves 
manufacture and sell. They need no ledgers, neither 
do they employ clerks to keep their accounts for 
them* These British nomads occupy no gilded 
mansions ; they retain no obsequious menials to do 
their bidding; they know nothing of the etiquette of 
fashionable life, but are satisfied with the meagre 
accommodation of a frail tent, or a small, inexpensive 
cart or van. We are not aware that the list of 
gipsy families includes any philosopher that ever 
attained any great eminence, or that it numbers wiy 
one who ever distinguished himself by his knowledge 
of the fine arts, or of popular science ; so far the 
histories of the Jews and gipsies are dissimilar. 

The correctness of the foregoing statements is 
borne out by Roberts in his book 4 The Jews and 
the Gypsies/ where he says : " The history of the 
Jews (as dispersed among the countries professing 
Christianity) exhibits one of the most, nay the most, 
revolting pictures of horrid cruelties that is to be 


found in the annals of the world. Nothing less than 
the hand of Him who had decreed their continuance 
as a distinct people could possibly have maintained 
them such, in every nation, in spite of attempts to 
extirpate them all. 

" Though the gipsies have few, if any, of those 
peculiarities which distinguish and tend to preserve 
the Jews a distinct people, they have not withstood 
those excessive and almost constant persecutions 
which the Jews have done. 

" The former shun society and disregard wealth. 
They neither provoke hy their intrusion, nor tempt 
to oppression by their great possessions. They have, 
therefore, escaped with comparatively few trials. 
They are contented with poverty, and they flee from 
contention. The Jews, on the contrary, in every 
country, dread obscurity and poverty. They flock 
to the most populous cities, to the most crowded 
marts ; they covet and pursue wealth with the most 
earnest and ceaseless activity." 


Wide, however, as is the difference in the facilities 
available to Jews and gipsies for the exercise of the 
commercial element, there are some instances in which 
gipsies have accumulated property, especially on the 
Continent, as publicans, speculators, and artizans. 
We shall, however, refer to those gipsy men only 
who have done so in our own country. 

Within the last thirty years some gipsies lived in 
a number of tents pitched on a plot of waste ground 
in the parish of Wandsworth, for which they paid 


little or no rent The authorities, after many fruit- 
less efforts, at last succeeded in dislodging these 
unprofitable tenants, and then offered this piece of 
land for sale by public auction. One of the ejected 
gipsy men being the highest bidder, the plot of 
ground referred to became his property. Not many 
years ago we happened to be in that locality, when 
a row of small cottages was pointed out to ns, which 
we understood belonged to the gipsy, who had them 
erected upon the piece of land ho had purchased as 
described, and for which, as the landlord, he received 
the rente. Not very far from this place were two 
beautiful villas, said to be the property of another 
member of this tribe of gipsies. 

We are acquainted with a gipsy man of the Smith 
family, who about ten years ago told us he was worth 
a thousand pounds. Although gipsies, as a people, 
have no confidence in banks, we know another gipsy 
who had about two thousand pounds in one of the 
Bristol banks ; and we have been credibly informed 
that a gipsy horse-dealer had a floating capital of 
nearly three thousand pounds. Not very long since 
i t was reported in the newspapers that the van of one 
of the Boswells, while in a lane in Kent, was broken 
into during his temporary absence, and sixteen 
hundred pounds and a large number of spade guineas 
extracted therefrom. 


On one occasion some gipsies and men of our own 
race were drinking together in a public-house in 
Dorsetshire. Some of these men boasted al»mt their 


money, when one of the gipsies told the landlady 
to supply him quickly with hoiling water, a tea-pot, 
tea-cup and saucer, sugar and milk. She did so. 
The gipsy then put half-a-pint of sovereigns into the 
tea-pot, poured the boiling water upon them, and 
after a few minutes filled the cup with the hot liquid, 
added sugar and milk to it, and then drank it off. 
" Now then," said he, turning to the company, " is 
there another man here who can make himself, as 
I have done, a cup of gold tea ? " We may here 
observe that a half-pint measure will contain more 
than 250 sovereigns. 


Some gipsies are partial to a two-fold isolated life, 
as instances are known in which both men and 
women of these wandering tribes have preferred, 
hermit-like, to live alone. These are often of 
miserly habits, and hoard up valuable property to a 
great amount, which they sometimes keep about 
their persons, or hide in some other convenient 

We have been informed by an old gipsy woman, 
named Jones, that some years ago a female of her 
own tribe resided in a cave made in an embankment 
of sand near one of the small towns of Hertfordshire, 
and that during her lifetime she was very industrious, 
but of singular habits, and so eccentric that she 
would never live with any of her own people, nor 
with any one else, but at all times preferred being 
alone. Many members of her tribe suspected she 
had money concealed somewhere, but she would 


never trust anyone with the secret At length she 
was seized with illness, the news of which reached 
some of the gipsies, who requested old Mrs. Jones, 
who knew her well, to go to the cave to look after 
her. She, however, died in a few days, and was 
buried at great expense in the churchyard of the 
parish in which she died. After this the cave was 
searched, and her clothes were examined, and as the 
gipsies expected, some profitable discoveries were 
made. Silver tea-pots, tea-spoons, and other valuable 
articles were found, carefully concealed in long holes 
made in the sides of this sandy cave ; and sewn up 
within the lining of an old dress in which the gipsy 
had died was a great number of sovereigns, which 
she always carried about with her. " In fact " said 
our informant, "she died rich, and I know it's true, 
for I was the one that laid her out, and examined 
the old dress myself," 

As there was no mention of any will having been 
t i jade and left by the deceased gipsy as to the dis- 
posal of the property just mentioned, we naturally 
inferred that Mrs. Jones secured at least the best 
share of it, especially of the gold coin, and had the 
most valid of all reasons for saying, " her death to 
me was gain/' 


The following story, given on the authority of a 
great friend of the gipsy race, shows not only the 
duplicity which gipsies sometimes practise on others, 
but also their love of finery : M A gipsy woman 
obtained a hundred pounds from two ladies by pre- 
tending that she could, by her art in conjuration, 


double the money, and return them two hundred 
instead of one hundred pounds. Although these 
ladies had no other security than the bare promise 
of the gipsy that she would do so, yet they gave 
up the one hundred pounds as she desired. With 
this money the gipsy bought a beautiful horse, a 
new saddle, a bridle, a silver-mounted whip, a long 
riding-habit, and a broad-brimmed beaver hat with 
a feather in it, and thus dressed was often seen 
riding about the counties of Hants and Dorset." 

As a people the gipsies are very fond of gay 
colours — the more glaring they are the better they 
seem to like them. Rings and trinkets of various 
kinds, but sometimes of questionable quality, are 
worn by them in great profusion. At a lecture we 
gave at Great Somerford in Wiltshire, some time 
since, were three gipsies — a man and two women — 
who, having paid the highest charge for admission, 
occupied three seats in the front row. On the 
fingers of the left hand of one of the women were 
not less than twelve gold-looking rings. 

We have read of a gipsy girl who obtaineda gold 
chain and locket and some valuable plate from a 
young lady by promising to make the gentleman the 
lady loved love her ardently in return. She not only 
failed to do so, but fled to another district with her 
ill-gotten booty, and the lady was compelled to con- 
fess to her parents what she had done. The gipsy, 
however, was pursued, and found washing her 
clothes in a lane, with the gold chain round her 

We know a gipsy man, acknowledged by those 
gipsy families with whom he frequently travels as 


tbeir chief, director, or presiding genius, who had a 
finger-ring for which, he said, fifty pounds had been 
paid by a relation of his, at that time in Ireland. 
He had also a waistcoat, lined on the inside and at 
the back with scarlet and blue satin, and on it were 
seven fox's teeth mounted >vith silver and used as 
buttons, instead of the ordinary metal or bone ones. 
This waistcoat, he told us, cost him seven guineas, 
and that he wore it on very special occasions only. 


affords a striking proof of the innate vanity often 
displayed by this people. We have seen this dealer 
in horses at some of the fairs in the west of England 
wearing a top-coat, and on it a row of silver crown 
pieces shanked for buttons, a row of half-crown 
pieces used as buttons for the under-coat, and 
shillings for the waistcoat. Of these he was very 
proud, and boastingly told us he had paid twelve 
pounds ten shillings for the set. 

This love of gay clothing is sometimes exhibited 
by gipsy children, of which Crabb gives the fol- 
lowing instance : " An orphan, ten years old, taken 
from starvation, and who was fed and clothed, and 
had every care taken of him, would not remain 
with those who wished him well, and who had 
been his friends, but returned to the camp from 
which he had been taken, saying that he * would 
he a gipsy, and would wear silver buttons on his 
coat, and have topped hoots.' And when he was 
asked how he would get them, he replied, 'JJy 
catching rats' H 


A few summers ago a tribe of gipsies, numbering 
altogether about sixty men, women, and children, 


at which we were present. The field had been 
rented by them for a month, and in it were eight 
tents and four or five vans. . The arrangements for 
this ball were almost unique. In the middle of the 
field, which was about five acres in extent, and 
encircled with high trees, a piece of ground, about 
fifty feet in diameter, was inclosed by poles and 
ropes reaching from one pole to another. In the 
centre of this plot, and planted firmly in the ground, 
was a very high pole, and from the flag-staff at the 
top of it floated the Union Jack. At the bottom of 
this centre pole a quadrille band was stationed. 
Naphtha lamps in great numbers were suspended on 
it nearly twenty feet from the base, and on the top 
of each of the circumference poles other lamps were 
placed. As soon as the evening shadows deepened 
into night the lamps were lighted, the yellow glare of 
which gave the field and its surroundings a strange 
and romantic appearance. Although the charge 
for admission was sixpence each person, there were 
present at this ball about two thousand people of 
both sexes, and of nearly every condition of life. 

Some of the gipsies who took part in the ball were 
gaily and expensively dressed. One of the women, 
who was about twenty-four years of age, wore a black 
and yellow satin dress so long in the skirt that it 
trailed on the ground. She had on red slippers; 
round her wrists were costly bracelets; on her fingers 

ii several rings ; a gold chain and !>c;u!s were 
suspended from her neck ; and on her head was a 
kind of coronet, pendent from which were six golden 
ptohfiias ; her hair, which was as Mack rts the raven's 
wing and of great length, hung in glossy ringlets 
aver her shoulders. Another gipsy woman whs 
attired in a costly blue satin dress. Trinkets, ear* 
drops, and chains of almost every pattern, red cloaks 
Mid shawls, neckerchiefs, and long sashes, of nearly 
o v^ry colour, were worn by the other females. 

Some of the young gipsy men who took part in 
the hall wore black dress coats, white vests and 
collars, satin neckties, black trousers, and patent- 
l^ither boots. Although we have little or no 
ktxowledge of the Terpsichorean art, we may venture 
to say that the dancing on this occasion was said to 
have been both easy and graceful. Although two or 
fcltiee gipsy men danced with a few of our girls, we 
Noticed that the gipsy women either would not, or 
tli € y were not allowed to, dance with any one but 
*t*e men or females of their own race. 

Although we are not aware that there is a Romany 
prohibiting gipsy girls from dancing with Gorjos, 
y^t the following incident seems to indicate that such 
^ law is in existence. A young shopman of the town 
close by, and who was one of the visitors at this ball, 
requested a gipsy girl to be his partner in the dance ; 
this she very courteously but firmly refused to do. 
He, however, pressed her over and over again to 
grant his wish, but still she objected. He then be- 
came so rudely impertinent that she left the dancers 
and went to her tent, thinking to get rid of his 
importunities. Thither he followed her, and was 


about to enter the tent when she gave a note of 
alarm, which was in a few moments responded to by 
two gipsy men who had been carefully watching the 
conduct of the intruder. These gipsies accosted him 
in a fierce and determined manner, and seemed much 
inclined to inflict upon him a very severe and sum- 
mary chastisement for his temerity. Fortunately 
the young man saw he was in danger, and at once 
beat a retreat, or the consequeuces might have been 
to him of a serious nature. This little episode caused 
some confusion, and seemed to threaten an abrupt 
termination to the entertainment, but in a few 
minutes order was restored, and the dancing was 
resumed, which lasted until about eleven o'clock. 


A day or two previous to this grand ball two gipsy 
girls, named Rosa Boswell and Linda Young, belong- 
ing to the encampment referred to, visited a shop in 
the adjacent town to purchase some jewellery. 

" I want a pair of ear-drops," said Rosa to one of 
the shopmen ; " will you show me some ?" 

Seeing they were gipsies, and not having much 
confidence in the honesty of his visitors, but probably 
a wonderful idea of their adroitness in deception and 
trickery, the young man said he was afraid he had 
none to suit her, as they were all very expensive. 

" Let me see some," said Rosa, a little annoyed at 
his remark. Several were then placed before the 
gipsies, and as they rapidly examined them the eyes 
of the jeweller were all the time watching the move- 
ments of the girls fingers. 


" I don't like any of these/ said Rosa. 

" No more do I," said Linda, 

" What is the price, sare ? H asked Rosa. 

"Very expensive," he replied; "they are all a 
guinea a pair, nothing less." 

u A guinea a pair," repeated Rosa, and then laughed 
at the shopman, who did not appear to like in any 
degree the appearance of the customers hefore him. 

"Have you no better things than these in your 
shop ? n enquired Linda. 

"Certainly we have," was the young man's 
answer, u but much more expensive than those I 
have shown you." 

** Take them away," said Rosa ; *' a pair of ear-drops 
I want, and a pair 111 have if they suit my fancy*" 

Another card of ear-drops was produced, a pail of 
which almost instantaneously attracted the notice of 
the two girls. 

"I'll take this pair, sare" said Rosa; "so wrap 
them up carefully, and I'll pay you." 

M But these are five guineas a pair," said the 
astonished jeweller. 

"Never you mind about that," said Rosa ; "what 
odds is it to you if I like to have them? I'm pre- 
pared to pay for them, so be quick about it, we 
want to be off." 

Even Rosa's assurance of ability to pay down the 
money at once did not seem to give the shopman any 
greater confidence in the honesty of his gipsy cus- 
tomers, but rather tended to increase his suspicion 
that they would, in some way or other, deceive bim, 
and that he would become, after all his care, the 
victim of their superior craft. 

o 2 



The ear-drops were however carefully placed in a 
small case for protection against injury ; Rosa paid 
the full price, five guineas, for them, and then hotlu^n 
girls left the shop, evidently well pleased with th <*-=» 
purchase they had made. 

On the first night of the ball we saw these verit - 

able ear-drops hanging on the ears of the vivacious 
Rosa, and we must confess that they helped to give 
a kind of fascination to her tawny complexion, ancizzzd 
very dark hair, which hung in great profusion ove^r r 
her well-formed shoulders. 

It will not, we think, be out of place to remarl-=Mc 
that the kind of vanity we have referred to is no- t 
peculiar to the gipsy race. It is as " old as the hills, 1 ^ 
and as wide as the world. It is found amongst tb»- e 
most untutored tribes of men, and more or les. -ass 
prevails throughout all civilized countries. 

This love of gay colours, of trinkets, jewellery, anc^ d 
of various kinds of finery is nevertheless the morm>~~?* 
noticeable in the gipsies because of the strange con 
trast these colours present to the common and coars^^^ 
quality of the habiliments they often wear, and th^^^ e 
abject poverty of many members of these wanderings *S 
tribes. Even when they lack warm and necessar^C^T 
clothing, they seem determined to bedizen themselves ^ses 
with the most gaudy colours that nature and art car^ - n 


Gipsies appear to have greater confidence in pawi 
shops than in banks. When they have a good si 
of money they usually purchase silver chains, spoon^^ 
cream jugs, tea-pots, and other valuable articles^ 


which they pawn for a very small amount. When 
they need ready money they redeem and sell them 
for what they will fetch. When a gipsy has to be 
tried for a crime he may have committed, his friends 
will pay liberally for counsel to defend him, some- 
times as much as one hundred pounds. We have 
been informed that a case of this kind occurred in 
the city of Oxford a few years since, on which 
occasion the young gipsy who was tried being 
acquitted, the gipsies, many in number, on hearing 
the verdict became excited and hilarious, threw their 
hats up into the air, and indulged in almost frantic 
demonstrations of joy at the young gipsy *s release 
from what they termed " the clutches of the law." 


Gipsies have a law of honour among themselves 
called "Pazhorrus," which enforces payment of 
double the amount of money borrowed by one gipsy 
of another if the money is not paid at the time 
verbally agreed upon. If the l>orrower cannot pay 
it back in money he must work it out in some way 
or other, and if he won't work it out he is then 
discarded, and considered to be a disgrace to his own 

Strict, however, as they are in carrying out this 
law, gipsies very readily assist each other in times of 
need and misfortune. 

Not many months since several gipsies met at an 
inn in Acton-Turville. Amongst them was a gipsy 
who had recently lost his horse, and was therefore 
in distress, as he had not quite sufficient money to 


buy another. "Arnold," said he to a well-known 
gipsy horse-dealer; " can yon lend me two or three 
sovereigns for a few days ? I've lost my horse, and 
if I can't get another the lot of us, I mean the 
missus and the young 'uns, as well as myself, will 
starve altogether." 

" I can't, my lad," replied Arnold ; " I havn't got 
any by me ; but wait, I may find something eke 
that will answer the same purpose." Arnold then 
took from a fob within his plush waistcoat a roll of 
bank-notes. " There's a Jwer (five pound note) for 
you," said he, tossing it to the man ; " will that do 
for you ? and, Cooper," he said, " don't forget the oW 

The usual condition on which gipsies lend mone^ 
one to another was understood on this occasion, atv c 
fully attended to by the borrower, who return^ 
the money at the time specified between the t^^ 

The honour and punctuality of gipsies in th " 
particular no doubt constitute the secret of the^ 
readiness to assist each other in the time of mi^ 
fortune. Were it not so the fate of many of th^ 
gipsy people would be, in their isolated condition" 
almost intolerable, at any rate very much wors-s 
than it now is. We do not hesitate to say tha* 
sympathy is a prominent feature of the gipsy race. 

Although these wandering tribes are guilty 6* 
many delinquencies, they are bound by one of their 
own laws never to divulge any secret, nor to giv^ 
information to others that would be in any wa^ 
detrimental to the interests of their own ractf 
Rather than betray each other, they would submit t^ 


ie severest punishment that could be inflicted upon 

Gipsies are not so selfish as many persons suppose 
Mm to be. They agree to share their spoils and 
HOTO ff ^fl with those who belong to the same clan or 
Nnpany. This communistic practice or agreement 
Mi all the strength of an old established law 
mongst them, and a violation of it will often result 
1 the most fierce and pugilistic encounters between 




Causes of neglect of mental culture among the gipsies— A 
wandering life unfavourable— Requirements of the human 
intellect — Gipsy children great talkers — Mental capacitil* 
of gipsies— A queer story of Sandie Brown and th« 
bullock's tail — The farmer and gipsy horse-dealer— A younf 
gipsy cripple — A school of gipsy children — Sylrcsttf 
Boswell and his library — A novel system of education— 
John Hteggall, the Suffolk gipsy — Gipsies observant n 
passing events — What a gipsy woman once said to W 
author about the education of their children. 

'Tib education forma the common mind, 
Just as the twig is lent, the tree's inclined*" 



That the low mental and moral condition of the 
gipsies ever since their introduction into this country 
ias been like a dark cloud or blot standing pro- 
minently and conspicuously out in the full light of 
>ur civilisation and educational facilities cannot be 
Icnied, at least not by those who hare paid any 
ittention to the life, habits, and histories of this 
angular people. 

We have already remarked that the gipsies have 
never written any books nor kept any records re* 
Rpecting themselves. We are not aware that any 
writer of foreign literature and history has ever 
given an account of any learned men belong- 
ing to the gipsy race, either in this or any other 

The causes of this neglect of mental culture 
among the gipsies, and the ignorance in which 
they have lived, are worthy of consideration, which 
may aid us in arriving at a correct conclusion, and 
suggest to us the proper means to be used to remedy 
this state of things. 

We have often referred to this subject when in 
conversation with gipsies, some of whom have said 
that the fact of having no literature of their own, 
and their deficiency in the rudiments of education, 
are owing to their perpetual wanderings, to the 
persecutions they have suffered, and to the prejudice 
which everywhere prevails against them. It must 
be admitted that a nomadic life is not favourable to 
a regular and systematic course of education, ami 
that the general antipathy which has always existed 
against the gipsies has constituted a great barrier to 
every effort that has been made to extend the 


advantages of education to these isolated and wan- 
dering tribes. 

While admitting that persecution may have 
operated as a preventive to the proper culture of 
the gipsy mind, yet this reason loses some of its 
force by the fact that the Jews under parallel 
circumstances have always had learned men amongst 
them. Unfavourable as the wandering life of the 
gipsies, the antipathy shown towards them, and the 
persecutions they have endured, more or less, for 
centuries, may have been, and still aTe, to the 
acquirement of popular education, other reasons 
than those given may, we think, be assigned for the 
want of it among the gipsy people. 

Nature in her productions furnishes us with an 
apt illustration of what is really necessary for the 
proper development of the human intellect. 

The beauty and perfection of seeds, plants, and 
flowers, depend, in a great measure, upon the 
proper attention and care man bestows upon them, 
and especially upon suitable soil, rain, and genial 
sunshine. If lacking these they would be of feeble 
growth, and defective both in life and beauty. 

The human intellect also requires care and 
attention too, because without them it cannot be 
properly developed, which would be to the dis- 
advantage of those in whom it is neglected. Two 
children may, when born, be much alike both in 
their physical and mental natures, but by due 
attention, education, good examples and influences, 
or neglect of these things, may grow up to be two 
widely different beings. 

It is true that sometimes a liberal education, a 


good example, and even the best of all influences, 
fail in making men skilful, virtuous, and useful ; yet 
we have proofs in abundance that they also produce 
very opposite effects. By them the better qualities 
of the heart and powers of the mind are drawn 
out, resulting not only in pleasure and benefit to the 
individual himself, but also in great good and advan- 
ges to society generally. 

On the other hand, where there are no controlling 
moral influences to guide developing reason aright, 
no good example given for imitation, and no 
ffort made to store the mind with useful knowledge, 
n we expect a child, or any other human being, to 
become anything else but wicked, vicious, rude, in 
conduct objectionable, and a pest to society ? 

Lb these two cases the opposite results arise, not 
bo much from difference in mental power, but from 
the right or wrong direction given to it by the kind 
of education each has received, and the influences 
by which they have been directed. 

With but few exceptions those who are not 
educated, and whose minds are not imbued with 
ennobling principles, seem to be almost destitute of 
ental aspirations, and seldom have any inclination 
raise themselves m the social scale, but are con- 
nt to remain in ignorance, and to live insensible 
all progress and the moral obligations of life. 
The ignorance of the gipsies is in a groat measure 
owing to an innate wish to avoid everything that 
would draw them into more intimate connection with 
ther people, which is no doubt one reason why they 
ver adopt the customs or encourage the arts 
rainon among all civilized people. Gipsies seldom 


attempt to use either pen, pencil, or paint in drawing 
or sketching, at least not in England. They estimate 
Nature's own pictures — her seas, rivers, mountains, 
rocks, trees, fruit, and flowers, as exhibiting some- 
thing infinitely superior to that which man can 
produce. They appear to have no reason to com- 
plain of frequent visits from the poetic muse, at all 
events we are not favoured with many of their poetic 
effusions. They have but little poetry of their own, 

Gipsy children, like their parents, are great talkers, 
and like all other young folks, will often amuse each 
other by relating what they have seen and heard in 
their day's ramblings through "the big town," "in 
the fair," or on the " race-course," and it may be what 
they have witnessed at the "gentleman's house." 
They tell their little adventures, successes, diffi- 
culties, and sorrows one to another, and each seems 
quite satisfied if he or she has the sympathy of the 
rest. Adult gipsies have but few traditionary tales 
either in prose or poetry respecting their own race, 
and care but little to hear those having reference to 
other people. 

From the picture we have drawn it will be seen 
that both the teachers and pupils of gipsydom have 
been placed at great disadvantage in reference to the 
cultivation of the intellect, proper education, and 
the inculcation of right and elevating principles; 
and also in lacking those influences and examples so 
necessary to form the true moral character and to 
train the mind in honesty, uprightness, and virtue. 

Although a phrenological examination of the head 
of a man whose intellect has been well developed by 
study and education, and that of a wayside gipsji 


who lias not had these advantages, might result in 
favour of the former, yet we assert that the gipsies, 
as a race, are not wanting in mental power or 
capacities. They have thorn, and need only to be 
brought out by exercise and encouraged by some 
friendly voice and the counsels of those who have 
learned wisdom, not ouly from education, but from 

Gipsies, as before shown, are capable of becoming 
good musicians, actors, and mechanics. Some of them 
have marvellously good memories ; their powers of 
perception are considerable ; they are eveu shrewd 
and witty, have an extensive knowledge of the weak- 
nesses of human nature, which they are clever enough 
to turn to their own advantage ; and their inventive 
faculties, seen in some of their deep-laid schemes, 
are of a wonderful kind. 

When any man is in a difficulty about the attain- 
ment of an object, no matter whether it is a good or 
a bad one, he finds it necessary to use his reasoning, 
or brain-power, to extricate himself from it, so that 
he may ward oft* the punishment that would follow 
a failure in his effort to do so. That gipsies are 
mentally capable of doing this may be seen in the 
following story of 


"On one occasion this Scottish gipsy stood in 
great need of butcher's meat for his tribe. He hail 
observed grazing in a field in Linlithgow a bullock, 
which had at one period by some accident lost about 
three-fourths of its tail* lie bought from a tanner 


the tail of a skin of the same colour as this bullock', 
and in an ingenious manner made it fast to the 
remaining part of the tail of the living animal by 
sewing them together. Disguised in this way he 
drove off his booty ; and as he was shipping the 
beast at Queensferry, on his way north, a servant 
who had been despatched in search of the depredator 
overtook him as he was stepping into the boat. An 
altercation commenced; the servant said he could 
swear to the ox in his possession were it not for his 
long tail, and was accordingly proceeding to examine 
it narrowly to satisfy himself in this particular, when 
the ready-witted gipsy, ever fertile in expedients to 
extricate himself from difficulty, took his knife out 
of his pocket, and in view of all present cut the false 
tail from the animal, taking in part of the real tail 
along with it, which drew blood instantly. He threw 
the false tail into the sea, and with some warmth 
called out to his pursuer, * Swear to it now, you 
scoundrel.' The servant, quite confounded, said not 
another word on the subject ; and being thus im- 
posed upon by this bold stroke of Browns, returned 
home to his master, and the unconscionable thief 
prosecuted his journey with his prize." 

The following story is another illustration of what 
we have stated in reference to the inventive faculties 
and skill which gipsies often exhibit. 


It appears, according to the author of 'The 
Gipsies, History, Customs, &c.', that a person who bad 
formerly been a P.M.P., but who married the widow 


of a Lincolnshire fanner, went to Spilsby fair, and 
sold an old horse to a gipsy, to whom he expressed a 
wish to purchase a horse of a similar size and colour, 
but a few years younger. The gipsy at once 
declared that he had a horse of that description 
grazing a few miles away, and if the man would wait, 
he would have it on the spot in a few hours. He 
waited. The horse was bought. On entering the 
yard the next morning, his wife, who was par- 
ticularly fond of old Jack, having been a great 
favourite with her former husband, said, "Fm glad 
you ve brought hiin back again/* " Back,'* said the 
husband, u what do you mean ? " " Why, that's Jack," 
replied the wife. " You've lost your eyes," was the 
answer. "That may be," rejoined the wife good 
naturedly, 44 but that's Jack, and only get off, and 
you'll see where he'll go/* When, lo ! and behold ! 
Jack gave one of his usual snorts, and then trotted 
off to his accustomed stall. The truth was, the gipsy 
had, in a few hours, metamorphosed Jack into a 
bright skinned and sprightly horse, and then sold 
him to his original proprietor, who paid ten pounds 
for his bargain. 

Some gipsies have shown great quickness, affec- 
tion, and logical aeuteness on subjects of an abstruse 
kind. Mr. Vanderkiste, connected with the London 
City Mission, has given an interesting account of 
the mental capacities of 


who was at one time an infidel, but who was induced 
to attend religious services and to study the Bible* 


He would sometimes ask very perplexing questions. 
One day he quoted a passage from * Humboldt's 
Cosmos.' This work being very expensive, Mr. 
Vanderkiste asked him how he gained access to this 
and similar works he appeared to be acquainted 
with. The gipsy answered that " he used to go to 
Paternoster Row, where the books is all of a row, 
and they turn over fresh pages, and I reads like 
anything and picks up a deal." He often held 
discussions with infidels, whose objections to Christi- 
anity he would meet with forcible arguments. 


A few years since a young lady, residing at 
Hounslow, opened a school for some gipsy children 
belonging to an encampment close to the town. 
Her pupils were poorly clad, some of them without 
shoes and stockings. Their hair, by constant ex- 
posure to the sun and dust, was almost as rough 
and of as many shades of colour as the hair on the 
backs of their donkeys browsing by the side of the 
road. But her pupils were nevertheless ready- 
witted, quick, and willing to be taught. The re- 
plies they gave to some of her questions, and the 
curious comparisons they frequently made, afforded 
their teacher much amusement, and encouraged her 
to persevere in her self-imposed task of teaching the 
" young idea how to shoot." 

On one occasion when they were learning the 
letters of the alphabet, she asked them how they 
would remember the capital letter K. 


$i Because/* answered one of the boys, 11 it is like 
donkey's ears." 

t( But how will you know the letter I?" she asked. 

"By looking," said one of the girls, "at the two 
holes in your face/' meaning the teacher's eyes. 

This lady informed us that these little rough, 
but ready, children of Nature had great aptitude for 
learning, and exhibited considerable clearness of per- 
ception and powers of comprehension, so much so that 
they would bear a favourable comparison, mentally, 
with the children of our own people. It was a cause 
of great regret to this lady, who took so much 
trouble with and interest in the education of these 
gipsy children, that there should be so sudden a 
termination to her successful exertions among them, 
by the whole tribe leaving Hounslow, where they 
had tented scarcely two months. What we have 
stated is an obvious proof that the nomadic life of 
the gipsy race operates very unfavourably in regard 
to the education of their children, and is really the 
main reason why they remain in such a sad state of 

We once read an account of a gipsy man, named 
Stanley, who learned to read after he had reached 
the prime of life, then became a student of the 
Scriptures and a preacher among his own people. 


This gipsy man, to whom reference is made in the 
fourth chapter, and who was about fifty-five years 
of age at the time to which we are about to refer, 
possessed a large number of books, which is a very 



unusual thing among this people. Finding he had 
pitched his tent about a mile from where we were 
living, we resolved upon having an interview with 
him, as his notability, in more senses than one, had 
very considerably excited our curiosity ; so one 
morning off we started, and were fortunate enough to 
find him at home, and busily engaged in looking 
over his library, which consisted of several books 
lying on the grass close to his tilted cart. After 
exchanging the usual courtesies of " good morning," 
and making certain enquiries about the health of 
each other, we asked him, 

" Are you a dealer in second hand books ? " 

"No, I'm not," sharply answered the gipsy; "at 
least not to make money by the sale of them; I 
bought them for another purpose. Would you like 
to look them over ? " he asked. 

We very gladly accepted the opportunity of doing 
so, and was surprised in finding that his collection 
of books comprised many well bound and valuable 
volumes on history, poetry, the sciences, novels of 
various kinds, a Latin Dictionary, a Greek Lexicon, 
a copy of Burns Justice, and a large Bible and 
Church of England Prayer-book, and many others 
on general subjects. 

After inspecting the books, we asked Boswell if 
he could read. 

" Certainly I can," he tartly replied, as he was 
evidently a little offended at the question. 

" But do you read much, and are you acquainted 
with the contents of the books before you ? 99 we 

" You had better try me," said the gipsy, w& 


a half saucy twinkle of the eye, "and then perhaps 
you'll be convinced on that point," 

We referred to a few historical narratives of the 
Old and New Testaments, with some of which Boswell 
was very conversant. He had read much of profane 
as well as of sacred history ; he spoke of the merits 
of different literary works, quoted the poets, touched 
upon some of the sciences, especially astronomy and 
astrology ; he talked ahout English jurisprudence, 
the idiom of tongues, the proper construction of 
sentences, the declension of nouns, the tenses, verbs, 
adverbs, and adjectives, and especially referred to 
some of the peculiarities of the dialect of his own 
race. He said he had some knowledge of the Latin, 
French, and German languages, and that he should 
like to have been a Greek scholar. 

This most interesting visit was supplemented by 
Boswell taking from his stock of books a well 
thumbed but very dilapidated-looking dictionary of 
the English language, over which he almost delivered 
a requiem by saying the said book was a good deal 
like its owner, " getting all the worse for age, wear 
and tear.*' "You see, sir,*' he said, *' I've had this 
book nearly ever since I could read, and that's a good 
many years, you know ; but by constant use it's got 
weak in the back, the leaves are loose, and they get 
out of place, and then, you see, they are a good bit 
worn and soiled with the use they've had; but I 
can't afford to buy another, and so I must put up 

with it, I reckon, unless some friend will but 

I won't say any more now — hope to see you to- 

We bade him * good morning," and then left hira 

v 2 


with his books. His unfinished sentence was very 
suggestive, and a broad hint that if we were to 
present him with a new English Dictionary he would 
not be in the least offended by our so doing. 

On our next visit to Boswell he had ample proof 
that his 44 broadhint " had accomplished its purpose, 
as we made him a present of a new illustrated 
dictionary, for which he expressed his thanks and 
gratitude as sincerely and heartily as any human 
being could possibly do. " I shall never forget your 
kindness, sir," he said ; " I shall cherish the remem- 
brance of it all the rest of my days ; but do me one 
more favour, sir, write your name in it, and that will 
make it a still greater treasure to me. I've got ink, 
and a pen too, but Fm afraid it's not a very good 
one." Boswell produced both in less than a minute, 
and so we left our autograph in the book ; he then 
in return gave us his, written in a bold and legible 
hand. We often saw him afterwards, and never 
failed to gather from him some new information 
respecting the history, language, and habits of the 
race of which he was such a notable member. We 
do not hesitate to assert that had gipsy Boswell been 
favoured in early life with educational facilities, he 
no doubt would have become a good scholar and 

If it is a matter of wonder that, in spite of the 
obstacles a wandering life throws in the way of 
cultivating the mind and acquiring knowledge, gipsy 
Boswell succeeded, by his own unaided efforts, to do 
so, we may assume that other gipsies might do the 
same if the necessity and advantages of education 
were pointed out to them. 



Many years since some kindly disposed people 
-were anxious to teach the gipsies, both children and 
adults, to read, and so supplied them with elementary 
books for that purpose ; but unfortunately for their 
well meant efforts to do so, these books were utilised 
in another way. The duty of lighting the fire usually 
devolved upon the eldest girl of the family. Some- 
times the sticks were not dry enough to ignite as 
rapidly as desired, and so the mother would say to 
the child, " Take the ticknee lils (little books), they'll 
set it going, 91 which no doubt generally proved to 
be the case. 

Another plan was therefore resorted to. Pieces 
of tin were produced, and on them letters, both 
capital and small, of the English alphabet were 
painted. They were then threaded on long pieces 
of wire and suspended on the gipsy tents. It was 
certain the gipsies could not light their fires with 
the tin letters, and so the former difficulty was 
removed. The voluntary teachers referred to were 
now encouraged in their work, as both old and young 
gipsies soon evinced an anxious wish to learn, and 
many of them ere long succeeded in doing so. These 
tawny pupils then became desirous to obtain books, 
winch were soon purchased, in some cases by them- 
selves, and in others by their teachers, who, at their 
own expense, gave them to the gipsies free of charge. 
It is said that these books were much prized by them, 
and often read. It is evident from the foregoing 
statements that gipsies are not totally destitute ol 


capacitior to learn, nor of inclination to inform their 
minds. But we would ask, how has this mental 
power, these inventive faculties, the quick percep- 
tion, the shrewdness, cunning, and ready wit shown 
more or less by the gipsies as a race been directed, 
and under what influences have they been en- 
couraged or controlled ? The social condition of 
this people answers the question. 

They are isolated, not only through their love of 
wandering, but because they know they are hated, 
despised, opposed, and outlawed by the world at large. 
This makes them vindictive, and indisposed to have 
anything to do with others beyond what sheer neces- 
sity imposes upon them. A feeling of revenge is 
the prompter of many of their actions ; their study, 
in many instances, is to form plans, and to adopt the 
most likely stratagems and crafty measures to gain 
their object, even at the cost of deceiving and 
wronging others. 

Practically, a gipsy father, one of the teachers in 
gipsydom, says to his son, " Now then, as you'll have 
to fight your own way alone in the world by-and- 
by, and to live by your own wits, you must listen 
to my advice, carry out my instructions, and stick to 
the rules I shall give you in whatever you undertake ; 
and you'll have to do some strange things, and run 
great risks, too, in order to get a living, I can tell 
you ; but you mustn't be squeamish about the means 
you may have to employ to gain your ends ; that 
wouldn't do a bit, because it would render you a 
disgrace, not only to me, but to the race to which 
you belong." 

This little pupil in gipsydom, whose mind is ira- 


pressible, and readily imbibes everything it hears 
and sees, has no other alternative but to believe that 
all bis father tells him is necessary to his own future 
success in his battle with the world* It is reasonable 
to suppose that by such an education and influences 
the boy, thus trained, will be guided in his future 
actions during the whole of his life, unless, as if by 
some miraculous power and unforeseen occurrences, 
he is rescued from that condition, and placed in one 
of greater moral and mental advantages. 

As a corroboration of the above remarks, we will 
relate some incidents recorded in the history of 


so called, who, though not a gipsy born, ran away 
from school because of the severity of the master, 
and joined a gipsy family, the father of which was 
a gentleman of our own race, and who, having 
married a woman of the Hearne family, lived a 
gipsy life, and in all respects used the same kind 
of means for a livelihood as do the genuine gipsies 
with whom he had identified himself. 

As the reward of a guinea had been offered for 
the restoration of young Steggall to his friends, 
and the pseudo gipsy referred to, knowing that he 
might be suspected of harbouring the runaway, 
deemed it necessary bo to alter the appearance of 
the lad that any one who might visit and search his 
tent would not be able to recognise the youth they 

Before giving the promised quotation, we must 
inform the reader that thq gipsy had taken young 


Steggall to his tent, not with any wrong or dishonest 
intention, but rather out of a strong paternal feeling 
and kindly sympathy ; for the boy, he saw, was 
weary, sad and hungry, and who had been, as he 
ascertained, driven from school by the cruel treat- 
ment he had received from his master. 

After being well fed, kindly used, and a good rest 
in his new but strange lodging-place, the gipsies 
naturally thought the boy would like to leave them, 
and so the gipsy said to him : 

" Young lad, do you wish to be restored to your 
friends ? " 

"Not yet," said I. (Steggall relates what 

" * Humph ! * was the old man's expression, as it 
he thought that I should one day leave him of my 
own accord. 4 How long would you like to live 
here ? ' 

" ' As long as you are kind to me/ said I. 

" 4 Humph ' — again. ' Did you peel those sticks* 
yourself ? ' 

" 6 Yes, father, he did/ said the girl. 

" * Who asked you that question, Mog ? I asked 
the boy.' 

" ' Yes, I did ; but Mog taught me/ 

6t 4 You have worked well ; but if you wish to 
remain here you must be a gipsy, or at least look 
more like one than you now do. There is a reward 
of a guinea offered to any one who will bring you 

" 4 Pray don't take me Back ! ' said I ; ' pray don't 

take me back ! ' 

* Willow sticks used by gipsies in basket-making. 


H 1 1 was not going to do so ; but you must take 
those things off your back, or you will very soon be 
carried back ; for I expect there will be some country 
fellows in search of you soon, who would like to 
have a guinea in their hands, and have us gipsies 
sent to jail for kidnapping you," 

u * Pray take my clothes! Pray lend me some 
others ! and do what you will with me, only do not 
let me fall into the grasp of that same tyrant again/ 

.*** Jack, get one of Barnaby's begging suits, and 
doff the youngster's blue jacket, Mog, get your 
mother s shears, and just cut off those curly locks *of 
the young gentleman* Jim, go you and bring out 
of your mother's tent some of the boiled willow peel- 
ings which have been burnt and seething there 
since the morning, and give him a regular wash/ 

" So did the gipsy presently employ all his family 
to disguise me* I was soon stripped, washed, clipped, 
, and dressed, and actually one of the girls went and 
fetched a piece of broken looking-glass, and showing 
me myself therein, made me have such a fit of 
laughter that even the long, lank, grim, and greasy- 
looking gipsy could not help joining in the laugh, I 
certainly never beheld such a thorough blackguard- 
looking lad as I was made to look in five minutes, 

*' My face was as sallow as if I had been smoked 
for a month ; my teeth were white ; my eyes, which 
were hazel, were now surrounded by such dark eye- 
lids that positively I had no idea that I could have 
been so Bpeedily transmogrified ; all the ringlets 
were shorn from my hair, and Mog had so sheared 
and stiffened it that there I was, worse than any 
union boy with his hair polled, and thoroughly 


transformed: ... I had a dried sheepskin jacket, 
which served me for waistcoat and coat ; a pair of 
trousers made of the old smoky tent tarpaulin ; no 
stockings, no gloves, no hat, but a greasy old dog's- 
skin or cat's-skin cap. In my own eyes I was now 
a gipsy, and though I knew nothing of the slang 
among them, I could perceive they enjoyed the idea 
of brotherhood amazingly. 

" 4 They will never know him, father, never.' 

" ' Give me his clothes, Mog/ 

" They were done up in a bundle, and in a very 
curious place they were deposited, A square piece 
of turf was taken up in the tent, which had evi- 
dently been removed and put down before, and 
underneath that turf there was a large boiler with a 
top to it, which, being taken off, my bundle of 
gentleman's clothes was thrust without ceremony 
into it, my hat crushed to a pancake. The lid of the 
pot was put on again, the turf covered over it, and 
sticks and pots and pans laid thereon, so that no 
one could have possibly conceived such a gipsy's 
cupboard unless they had experienced, as I then did, 
the use of it. 

" * Now, boy/ said the gipsy, 4 you must learn to 
act, if you can, and pretend to be deaf and dumb, 
and not to see or know anything. If any one should 
come into our tent — as you may depend upon it they 
will before the day is past — you must take no notice 
of any one ; stare at the smoke, and sit with your 
hands upon your knees like a fool ; or you may do 
that which appears to suit you better, go on peeling 
the sticks.' 

" I am quite sure that I learned this lesson of de- 


ception quicker than I learned any other lesson at 
school all the days I was at Mr, Rogers's Academy, 
and it was very necessary that I should be an apt 
scholar, for I was very soon put to the test. 

u ' Hullo, Jim, who is that coming up the lane ? 1 
" r Why that's the constable of the parish of 
Walsham, along with Fake the carpenter. You 
may depend upon it we shall have a search. Now, 
young one, sit you at your sticks/ 

" 1 Hullo, hullo, Master Gibson, we want to have a 
word with you ! f 

" This was the first time I had heard the name of 
the gipsy — Gibson, Master Gibson — so, thinks I, I 
must be a Gibson. I could hear the conversation, and 
Mog sat peering into my face to see how I took it. 

H i Who have you got there in your tent, Master 
Gibson ? We are bound to look for a young gentle* 
man who has run away from school at Walsham, 
and is suspected of being with you, and that you 
are harbouring him in your tent/ 
M 'Go in if you like, and look/ 
* * We don't want to go in; but have you anybody 

** ' Yes ; IVe poor Tom the idiot, deaf and dumb ; 
Mog, my daughter; and Jim, my youngest. You 
met my boys Jack and Barnaby, and I hope you 
didn't find any wrong. Pray look in/ 

m I saw two heads stare in, and Mog and I kept 
on peeling the sticks, and as innocently as possible. 
" * What can you see, Master Fake ? ' 
" 1 1 can see two or three urchins peeling sticks, 
that's all. But we are bound to search. Perhaps 
you'll order your fry to come forth/ 


" * Oh, yes. Mog, come out ; Jim, come out Take 
care of your brother.' 

44 We all came out. I grinning and staring in the 
face of the constable of Walsham, whom I knew as 
well as I did old Rogers ; for he as constable, quest- 
man, and sexton, used to keep boys quiet at church, 
dig graves, carry persons to prison, all in the course 
of due authority. 

44 4 The young lad missing is just the size of this 
boy of yours.' 

44 1 stared in his face as if I did not know what 
he said. 

44 He has a wild eye, curly hair, sharp look, is 
very strong for such a lad, and just this boys 

44 Certainly I did not look very bright ; I had no 
longer curly locks ; I might have a wild eye, but 
though my mind was not in the least degree a 
vacant one, yet it looked, I suspect, wild enough at 
the constable; but I lifted up the stick, put my 
long browned fingers to the top of it, and drew off 
such a long strip of green and yellow peel, and 
grinned at it so beautifully, that the old constable 
could not help saying : 

44 4 Poor boy, he must be a sad misfortune to you, 
Master Gibson. I hope you are kind to him ! ' 

44 Mog patted me on the head. I knew, of course, 
what was said, and I looked at her and laughed so 
pleased that Mog herself could not help smiling a*> 
the artful dodge of my young idiotcy. 

44 4 Here, poor boy, here's a penny for you,' saic0 
the constable. 

44 But I was deaf — I could not hear. It was thc^ 


first time I would not hear, and It would have been 
a good thing indeed if I had not heard many more 
enticing things than this first offer of a penny. 
* * He's quite deaf, Mr. Fake. 1 
" ' And quite dumb too? Poor boy! I did not 
know you had such an affliction. Well just look 
into the tents.* 

"They did so, and found nothing. When they 
were come out the constable said to the gipsy : 

(< 1 There's a guinea reward offered for the appre- 
hension or capture of the younker ; and if, in your 
wanderings, you should find him, a guinea, Master 
Gibson, is worth the handling/ 

** * Pray, do you want any baskets, sir ? ' said Hog. 
1 Any tea-kettles mending — any wooden bowls, sir ? 
Puor Tom here can make many things, and works 
hard, though he is an idiot boy/ 

a And she gave me a look so knowing that I 
understood how completely the constables were 
gulled, and what an apt scholar I had become at 

** Header, the Gibsons were all clever gipsies, 
and, to a certainty, they made me quickly as clever 
as themselves. The constables departed, and we 
had a bolt into the tent, and a roar of fun and 
laughter at the acting " 

Let it not be supposed that we intimate, by 
quoting the above narrative, that child-stealing, or 
detaining in their tents the children of other people 
for the sake of obtaining rewards by restoring them 
to their disconsolate friends, is a common crime 
among the gipsies. We believe it is not so ; at 
least, we know of no such case. We have given 


these particulars rather as an illustration of the 
ingenious methods gipsies not infrequently employ 
to deceive others for their own special purposes and 

We may here remark that brain-power may exist 
independently of external influences, and that it is 
developed accordingly as they are brought to bear 
upon it. But if they should be of an immoral and 
base kind, the mental qualities of human beings will 
tend to what is vicious, dishonest, crafty, and 
deceptive. If, however, the influences should be 
morally good, the mind will take an opposite course, 
by inclining to whatever is virtuous, straightforward, 
honest, and truthful. 

The gipsies, as a race, exhibit one special mental 
characteristic. Isolated and ignorant as they are 
considered to be, they are observant of the moral, 
social, and mental machinery which is in active 
operation among ourselves. They know as well as 
we do what is being done for the children of the 
poor in our towns and villages. They understand 
more of public charities and the endowments ot 
colleges and schools for educational purposes than 
many people give them credit for. They know all 
about the advantages that are offered in our village 
schools to the children of agricultural labourers, and 
are by no means ignorant of the many benefits de- 
rived by artizans and others, of all classes and creeds 
from our National, British, Board, and other public 

Although recent efforts have been made to obtain 
legislation to bring gipsies within the area of 
national education, and their own excuses for 


neglecting it may be weakening, yet many of them, 
and not long since either, have complained to us 
that in regard to the advantages we have mentioned 
they have as a people been entirely overlooked 
and ignored, and that our neglect of attention to the 
education of their children have alike arisen from 
the fact that they are gipsies. 

Some time since we were walking to Gold Hill, 
Buckinghamshire, when we met a gipsy woman 
named Stanley, with whom we had some conversa- 
tion respecting her own people neglecting to send 
their children to school, particularly when they re- 
mained in the same locality several days or three 
or four weeks. We were quite surprised to hear 
the reason she assigned for this apparent neglect. 

M Do you know, sir," she said, " that some of the 
mothers and fathers of your race have actually 
objected to let their children mix with ours even in 
small village schools/' She then told us that, not a 
long time before, some peasant children were taken 
from a school in Norfolk because the clergyman had 
thought proper to admit into it three gipsy children 
to be educated during the sojourn of the parents in 
that locality. 

Although we cannot exonerate the gipsies from 
all blame in not having their children educated, 
because they might do so if they would only give 
themselves the trouble to think of the advantages 
they would derive therefrom, we nevertheless must 
admit that the thought that their children are 
despised, slighted, and objected to because they are 
the offspring of gipsy parents is to them a burning 
and bitter one, and helps to widen the chasm that 


yawns between us and them, and to strengthen more 
and more their determination to remain an isolated 

Wherever the fault may be, it is certain that 
gipsies possess the power, capacity, and we may 
add a desire to learn. " Do, sir, if you please," said 
the gipsy woman alluded to, " try to remove from 
the minds of your people the antipathy they have 
against my race, and above all, ask them to help us 
to school our children. We love them, sir, and we 
want to see them do well. Do this, won't you ? " 
and as she looked earnestly at our face she said, 
"and heaven will bless you." No one will deny 
that gipsies ought to be educated both for their 
own benefit and the credit of English civilization. 

A GBSiEBOrS-HEAHTKH Ml'riY Wi'MAN. "M "h 1 II K I'll II mlTS. 



Clipping coin— Robbing hen-roosts— Highway robbers and 
house-breakers— Knack of vamping up old horses — Kid- 
napping— Gipsies not forgers — Nor political agitators — 
Gipsy hospitality to strangers — The benighted traveller — 
A distant glimmer — Night in a gipsy tent— How it was 
spent— Departure — Search for a stray bullock* and how it 
ended — A gipsy with a generous heart — Tho gipsy and 
the drowned boy, an affecting incident not to be forgotten. 

" Tlnvin^h tr- red clothes small vices do appear ; 
Rnbex and furred gowns hide all," 


m True friendship's laws are by this rule expressed — 
Welcome the coming, speed the parting <pw*l" 




Once upon a time we wandered into a village 
churchyard, in which amongst other inscriptions on -mzm: 
the head and grave stones we read the following : 

" Farewell, vain world, I've had enough of thee, 
And now am careless what thou eay'st of me ; 
The faults thou saw in me take care avoid ; 
Search well thine own, and thou'll be well employed." 

The last two lines contain so much good advic»^3t 
and truthfulness that if properly remembered anc*-«i 
followed, would no doubt be of great service to tu wrvi 
all, especially to those who are self-conceited, an» -^d 
proud of their mental abilities, of their high standing *g 
in society, and of their fancied superiority ove^*=ar 
less favored classes of their fellow-creatures. SucT^sh 
men by condescending to learn from the humblest^ -at, 
and even inanimate teachers, might become a littJBUe 
more charitable and generous in the opinions the^sy 
sometimes unjustly form of others, and we thin— jmk 
they would be induced to pause before they deal oiz: — it 
their sweeping denunciations against those they ma— —J 
dislike and condemn. 

If a man should censure and treat with contem^pt 
others who may happen to be the subjects of popul^» 
prejudice, it says very little in favour either of h_ "5s 
studious habits, of his sympathetic nature, or tL^-e 
analytical powers of his mind. How true it is thafc 

" Minds that have little to confer, 
Find little to perceive." 

It is not our intention to try even to exonera-*© 

the gipsies from all the charges of crime that have J 

been preferred against them, yet as " fair play is a J 

jewel," these wandering tribes have a moral right 1 


to expect and to claim it, even from their greatest 

So numerous are the vices alleged against the 
gipsies that it is necessary, as an act of justice to them, 
to see whether they are justly and deservedly charged 
with them or not* We shall refer to gome of them. 


Years ago the gipsies were accused of clipping 
coins, although no proofs, so far as we are aware, have 
been given that they even possessed the necessary 
implements for such a purpose. In fact, the exposed 
dwellings of the gipsies in our open roads, lanes, and 
woods are hardly favourable for such a practice m 
that alluded to ; but, on the other hand, render it 
highly improbable. 

Gipsies have been condemned as midnight ma~ 
rauders in farmyards, and of an unlawful partiality 
to un plucked poultry, It is not fair, however, to 
blame gipsies for having stolen all the fowls that 
have been missed from those places contiguous to 
their encampments* Other bipeds, as well as foxes, 
who are thorough nocturnal prowlers, deserve, not 
only some, but a large share of the blame of 
these depredations* We know that as a people the 
gipsies have an almost superstitious dread of being 
absent from their tents after nightfall, especially 
alone. This does not arise from cowardice, but from 
other causes painfully known to this hated race. 

That some gipsies have been, and may now be, 
guilty of poaching, that they have stolen horses, 
sheep, and a fawn now and then we will not deny, 

q 2 


I3ut we can assert these acts are comparatively 
few, and that their atrocity is mitigated by the 
remembrance that gipsies being often sorely pressed^Ez>: 
with the necessities of nomadic life, have many^^ 
temptations to dishonesty unknown to civilizedE»± 

We can state, on undeniable authority, that^^s 
numbers of farmers, near large towns, encouragt^-jgi 
the location of gipsies near, or on their farms, b ogz» « c 
lieving their encampments act as a check on othe =^^ei 
men more dishonest than gipsies, and who migh>~ jmt^ 
if it were not for the presence of the latter, oommir ~*it 
serious depredations on their property. 

This fact, and many little acts of kindness show- 
to these gipsy wayfarers, have inspired them wit-T**h 
a feeling of honour towards those who have place^sd 
confidence in them, and they have never to oiz_=ir 
knowledge in any case violated the trust reposed ^Sn 


As a race, the gipsies have never distinguish^^ 
themselves in these particular characters. Numeroc— 
as have been the burglaries committed in Londc^ 11 
and the country, we are not aware that any gip^J 
has ever been charged with complicity in the abo^ re 
crimes. Guilty as they may be of other offences 
we imagine they regard both house-breaking aim d 
highway robbery too hazardous for them to indulg^ 6 
in, for reasons which in no way apply to burglai — 
who, in the majority of cases, reside in thejov 5-1 ^ 
intricate, and crowded parts of our large towrr^ 18 
and cities, and who have greater facilities for tfc 3e 


concealment of stolen property than are available to 
English gipsies. 

It must be admitted that many of the gipsies are 
guilty of committing acts of petty larceny. Some 
of their women have obtained both money and 
property by their pretended power to foretell future 
events, and especially by attempting to give some 
clue to those persons who may have secretly injured 
ur wronged in any way the dupes who may apply to 
them for such information. 

Some gipsy men have shown their dexterity and 
their cleverness in deceiving the most practised eye 
by their 


and making them appear much younger than they 
really were, by which means they have often obtained 
two or three times more money for them than they 
were worth. Of this we have given an instance in 
the preceding chapter. If they can be justly 
charged with " horse-coping/' and M bishoping " these 
animals, the instances are few ; simply because the 
gipsies do not possess the proper conveniences 
necessary for performing the above operations. We 
may also state that great numbers of men, not 
gipsies, living in every part of the country, are also 
guilty of the same practices, 

In regard to gipsies kidnapping youths and 
stealing the children of other people, we may repeat 
that we do not know of a single instance in which 
they have done so in the sense in which the accusa- 
tion should be understood. Such an alleged crime 
more the phantom of a fertile imagination than 


anything else. It may emanate from the versatile Jie 
brain of a writer of a gipsy romance, be very oppor-— :mj- 
tune to his purpose, and may add in some degr ees 
to the sensational interest of his fictitious story, al— JT-i- 
though it may have no foundation whatever in fact. _ ^1. 

Even admitting that gipsies have enticed children*: sn 
from their homes, the cases are undoubtedly rare ^3; 
and it is singular that while such imputations ar»-s:re 
made against them, they also accuse us of kidnapping mng 
their children for the purpose of converting them fc:** to 
our life. Such reclamation, however well intendedE^ d, 
would not, we think, be permanent. 

There is no doubt some truth in the accusationdXis 
brought against them of clothes stealing. Gay, i: Snn 
one of his pastoral poems, leads us to believe so ; btKi^rt 
even this act is by no means peculiar to the gipsies-^ 8 * 
The wretchedness of the apparel worn by th 
majority of them scarcely justifies the charge ; an<^ m & 
they certainly hold no commercial relations with a 
certain other race whose affinity to " old clothes " \sS^ y& 
generally acknowledged. The dresses most of th^-* e 
gipsy women wear have not come to them direcr^-* 
from the dressmaker, but are such as have "seeic^ 31 
much better days," and which have been obtained notr 
only by mutual consent, but it may be as a rewarc^^ 
to the gipsies for a nice fortune, or the revelation oWz ^ 
a bright and successful future to their former owners.*-* * 

If gipsies are sometimes dishonest, coarse, ancL^^ 
given to debasing habits, charity should at least-^^ 
attribute these results to a wild, unrestrained 
condition of life. Uncouthness of manner is not, 
as a rule, characteristic of the gipsy race. They 
are often very courteous and polite in manner ; and 


al though they have a confident way of expressing 
themselves, and are in many cases exceedingly 
voluble, yet they are usually very respectful in 
their answers and demeanour towards other people, 
especially to those who treat them properly. 


Forgery, considered to bo one of the greatest 
offences against our laws, is certainly not a crime 
known among the gipsies. While many reasons 
might be assigned to show that it is not so, we 
believe that no instance can be adduced of any gipsy 
ever suffering the penalty of the law for the com- 
mission of this particular offence* Having little or 
no connection with our men of business in the com- 
mercial marts of our large towns, they have neither 
opportunities nor reasons for being guilty of this 
crime ; if they had, their ignorance of pencraft 
would be a great obstacle in their way. Their 
knowledge and dread of English law, which they 
know to be severe on this vice, is a strong reason 
why they refrain from attempting to gain anything 
at such a risk as by forgery. Their faults are many, 
and they no doubt will get money and acquire 
property even by questionable means, if they can do 
so without the fear of being detected and punished 
for their misdoings. 

It r 


[t may be that during the first century of their 
existence in this country and Scotland, so-called 


gipsy dukes, lairds and kings might, for their own 
sakes, have taken some interest in the politics and 
law-making of the time ; but that, we should iiqagine, 
would be to a very limited extent, as their mode of 
life precluded the very conditions necessary to give 
the right, the privilege, and power of taking a 
really official part in matters of a civil kind. 

So far as we are acquainted with modern gipsies, 
they appear to have no party political creed to in- 
fluence them either against or in favour of the. 
government or laws under which they live ; neither 
do they interfere with or seek a quarrel with other 
on religious grounds. 

Who ever heard of any political faction or con — 
spiracies amongst them to harass and obstruct the 
legislators of the country in which they sojourn 
Who ever heard of gipsies plotting the destructions * 
cf public buildings and other property, as well as ofe=^f 
human life, by the aid of dynamite or any others* 
explosive substance? May we not answer, "Nc^^ 


The discoveries of science which have been un — - 
lawfully used and misdirected by men in our very 
midst are little studied by the gipsies, and perhaps 
as little cared for by them. Their mode of life and 
habits may be very objectionable to other people, 
but none of the gipsies are known as members of 
Nihilist, Fenian, or other revolutionary organiza- 
tions. Their policy is rather to be quiescent in 
these matters, and to give no reason for being inter- 
fered with in their comparative isolation, which 
they much prefer to the excitement of a more public 



If 44 true generosity is a duty as indispensably 
necessary as those imposed upon ns by the law/' 
and if u it is a rule imposed upon us by reason, 
winch should be the sovereign law of a human 
being," then we claim for the gipsies the credit for 
being not only rational beings, but as developing in 
some of their actions a noble and generous feeling. 

Bitter as they may sometimes be against mankind 
generally, yet having passed the ordeal of suffering, 
privations, want of shelter and protection, they have 
learned to sympathize even with strangers who may 
be placed under similar circumstances, and to extend 
to them both kindness and hospitality as far as their 
means allow* 

Some years since a gentleman told us that he was 
ouce benighted when travelling in Shropshire. He 
had taken the wrong road. Soon after the rain 
began to fall, and darkness coming on, ho entirely 
lost his way ; and to make his condition even more 
sad and solitary, there was no house near to which 
lie could repair either for shelter or protection, but 
every probability of his having to remain all night 
in the darkness, exposed to the rain and bitter cold. 

Walking on, he at last espied a glimmering light 
down a narrow lane, to which he immediately 
hastened. He was in hope it might be in a cottage ; 
but to his surprise it was the light of a gipsy's fire 
that had attracted his attention. Although some- 
what startled, and a little nervous in discovering 
himself in the presence of some lawless, wandering 


gipsies, he nevertheless mustered up all the courage 
he could, told the gipsies he had lost his way, and 
then asked them to put him in the right road for the ^» me 
place he wanted to reach. 

One of the gipsy men, a stalwart, rough-looking^^ 
fellow, said to him, in a rather forbidding tone oftr<=» o 
voice, "It's no use to do that, sir; you are milea^ie 
out of the way ; the night is dark, the roads bt&-x:m 
bad, travelling is dangerous; gamekeepers are om^zmo) 
the look-out, dogs are let loose, and it's just likely, ifci . i 
you attempt the journey now to the place you want^^zml 
you may be taken for a poacher or something worse^Mase 
and be very unpleasantly dealt with." 

" What, then, am I to do ? " asked the benightec>^^e(i 
traveller quite concernedly, and discouraged by th* rf.he 
dark and disheartening picture the gipsy had s*«* so 
graphically drawn. 

" That depends upon yourself," replied the gipsy ^^ y* 
" If your pride of birth and high notions are not to**^ °o 
great to come down a little bit, and if you have cou*^* nm 
fidence in us, you may, if you will, stop here for th*-*-^ 6 
night. You shall be welcome to something to ea-^^^** 
and to drink, also to a bed, such as it is, and shelter:^^ 261 
until the morning. You may think the accommodation*^ 011 
isn't quite up to your idea of comfort, but I thinlC 
you'll find it better than being exposed to the we'^^"^ e1 
and the cold, and the chances of meeting with som* ^f^n* 
of the little unpleasantnesses I have just spoken 

The gipsy's proffered hospitality came like a ra^-^^ 
of sunshine to the benighted traveller, who, withou^^ #D * 
the least hesitation, heartily thanked the gipsy, anm^^d 
said he would gladly and gratefully accept his invita^^^" 


tion, and be his guest, at least for that night. He 
then seated himself on some straw within the tent, 
and tried to feel at home. 

The gipsy host then told his wife to brew a pot 
of tea, and to bring out what viands she had in 
her larder. She did so with apparent good-will, 
Although there was nothing particularly rich, rare, 
or uncommon in the meal thus provided, the 
stranger nevertheless partook of it with gratitude, 
but not unmingled with fear, that he might have 
to pay very dearly for their hospitality, if not by 
sustaining any personal injury, yet by losing the 
money he had in his purse. 

After tea two or three other gipsy men, occupy- 
ing as many adjacent tents, were invited to come to 
have a little chat with the stranger, which they were 
glad to do to while away the rest of the evening. 
Their appearance was not, however, at all reassuring 
to the traveller, but rather increased his fear that he 
might suffer before he left them; yet he carefully 
and judiciously did his best to conceal it from the 
gipsies, lest he should rouse their suspicion that he 
doubted their honesty, motives, good intentions, and 
the genuineness of their hospitality. We hardly need 
say that the conversation, although of an erratic 
and general character, was carried on in a social, 
good-tempered, and somewhat jocular manner. 
Smoking was, of course, the accompaniment, varied 
now and then with small libations of brandy and 
water. The guest began to feel more confidence in 
his entertainers and his host, and half regretted 
when the time for retiring to rest had arrived. 

The gipsies had made arrangements for the wife 


to sleep in another tent with two or three of 
the other women, so that her husband and the 
stranger should sleep together. The gipsy was 
soon oblivious of all earth's joys and woes ; but the 
guest remained awake for some time. Somnus at 
last came to his aid, and he slumbered on for some 
hours. When morning came he found himself un- 
injured, and his money safe in his pocket, and half 
reproached himself for the hard thoughts he had 
indulged in respecting the man who had so oppor- 
tunely and generously befriended him. 

The gipsy wife in good time came back to her 
own tent and set about preparing breakfast, which 
was a substantial one, for the gentleman, who 
enjoyed it very much more than he did the meal of 
the night before. Breakfast being over, the grate- 
ful traveller offered to repay the gipsies for their 
hospitality, but they peremptorily refused to accept 
a farthing. 

" No," said the gipsy man ; " thank you all the 
same, sir; you are welcome to the little we have 
been able to do for you. A fellow has a poor heart 
indeed if he couldn't without fee help another out of 
a difficulty such as you happened to get into last 
night, by taking the wrong road. If you're not in- 
clined to stop any longer, I will walk with you]and 
put you in the right road for the place you want" 

As soon as he had done this, the gipsy guide bade 
the traveller a good morning, wished him success, 
and said he hoped he wouldn't think quite so hardly 
of the gipsy race as many people are in the habit of 

These two men then parted; the one no doubt 


returned to his rude home in a sequestered Shrop- 
shire lane, with the gratification of having sheltered 
in a time of need a fellow-creature and human 
brother; while the other pursued his way with less 
antipathy towards the gipsy people, and with a 
resolve to make known to others the hospitality he 
had received from these strange nomads. This is 
by no means an isolated case, many of a similar 
kind could be adduced. 

From the above narrative we may imagine that 
even gipsies know that one of the greatest luxuries 
of life is 11 doing good." It is so, and we may say — 

** Han is dear to man ; the poorest poor 
Long for some momenta in a weary life 
When they can know and feel that they have 1>eeu 
Themselves the fathers and the dealers out 
Of some small blessing ; have been kind to such 
As needed kindness, for this single cause, 
That wo have all of us one human heart/ 1 



The gipsies belonging to the Chilcott family are 
supposed to retain the most original and purest 
characteristics of these wandering tribes in England, 
One of them, we know well, was a person of noble 
appearance, and in all respects seemed to be very 
superior to most of the women of her own race. At 
the time we first became acquainted with her she 
was the widow of gipsy Lee, who had been a man 
of considerable importance, both in intellect and 
position, amongst his own people. This woman had 
been very successful in fortune-telling, and, for a 


gipsy, might be said to be " well-off." She was he" ^^eld 
in great estimation by the poorer gipsies, to who: «=Dm 
she was very generous hearted. 

Having a practical knowledge of the condition Ton 
and requirements of her own " kith and kin," sT^-»he 
was often applied to for counsel in the time of 
difficulty, which she always readily gave. Beivr ng 
well acquainted with the medicinal properties of 
herbs, and of the afflictions common among t-^=±he 
gipsies, she often acted as a doctor, not only in pd -re- 
scribing what should be done, but in supplying, at 
her own expense, the means as a remedy for a«=ny 
particular malady that might be brought under h^«rar 

We never visited her tent without receiving ^ a 
hearty welcome. In manner she was courteoc— ^ 
civil and gentle to a degree, and many times invito ^ 
and pressed us to partake of some kind of refres 
ment or other. 

The last time we saw her she said, " If ever ycr^* u 
should, in your travels, hear of us in any part of tfc^ 16 
country, I hope you will come and see us. The va^^* 11 
there shall be at your service for the night ; it co^^ n " 
tains a good feather bed, and we'll try to make yo^^° u 
as comfortable as we can, not forgetting somethin *^**%> 
to eat and drink as well." 

Of course we thanked the gipsy for her kind offer: ^^ peT ' 
and promised to avail ourselves of it, if at any tim^*^** 16 
occasion should require it. We never had an; 
reason to doubt this woman's sincerity, but on 
other hand, have always regarded her as a gips^^^ 5 / 
possessing a truly generous heart. 



The following interesting narrative has been 
supplied to us by an old and dear friend, whose 
veracity cannot for a moment be questioned. His 
story, like the one just given, furnishes different 
traits of the gipsy character, especially of their 
kindly disposition and hospitable feelings towards 
those who may in any way have aided them, and 
who show confidence in their honour* Our friend 
says : 

44 During my boyhood in Dorsetshire I heard and 
saw much of the gipsies, and until I became 
intimately acquainted with them, was led to believe 
they were the most disreputable, deceitful, and 
dishonest people in the world. Dreadful stories of 
kidnapping children, waylaying country folks, and 
robbing and ill-using travellers were related, and in 
fact, that no life or property were safe if the gipsies 
were in the neighbourhood. 

"In my thirteenth year I used to go with a 
neighbour, who was a cattle dealer, to various fairs 
and markets about the country in the way of his 
business. There were no railways there at that time, 
so we had to begin our journeys very early in the 
morning. My master usually carried his bank notes 
in his neckcloth for safety ; and a brace of pistols 
were placed under the seat of the gig in case he 
might be attacked by gipsies or highway robbers. 

u I shall never forget the terror I used to 
experience when we came in sight of the fires of the 
gipsy encampments, more especially when I was 


returning alone, which I frequently did, sometimes 
not reaching home till after midnight ; but I cannot 
remember that either my master or myself ever 
received the slightest insult or injury from gipsies, 
beyond their dogs rushing at us as they passed, 
although it is true that on some occasions rather 
strong language was used on both sides. 

44 After a good deal of observation in passing and 
intercourse with the gipsies occasionally, I was 
inclined to think they were not such bad and dreadful 
creatures as I had been told they were. My more 
intimate acquaintance with them began in the fol- 
lowing manner : I had been on horseback nearly all 
day looking for a strayed bullock without success, 
and was returning home at night by a short cut in a 
bridle path through a wood. It was very dark, and 
I had just reached a gate which divided one part 
from another, when a man laid hold of my horse, 
saying, * You'll have to bide here a bit, my lad/ I 
said, 4 1 can't stop here, I want to get on to see Old 
Mark at the turnpike gate, to hear if he knows any- 
thing of a bullock we have lost.' He still held the 
bridle, and by the sound of subdued voices I con- 
cluded I had disturbed a gang of poachers. At last 
the man told me I had better go round by the road, 
as I might get a knock on the head if I went any 
further in the wood. 

44 1 could see it was of no use remonstrating with 
him, and therefore turned back and got into the lane, 
where I found a large number of gipsies round their 
fires preparing their evening meal. I asked an old 
man, who appeared to be very feeble, and who was 
lying by the fire, if any of his people had seen a 


stray bullock that day, when a boy jumped up by 
Ms side and said, 'Grandfather, this is the one who 
gave us the milk the tot her day when the nipper 
was so bad, I know him very well/ The old man 
then invited me to have some supper, and wait until 
his sons came, and also told me that most likely they 
would be able to help me. Having been in the 
saddle nearly all day, I was only too glad to get a 
mug of steaming hot coffee, with some delicious 
bread and butter, and sit and chat with the old 

u Before I left that night about a dozen men came 
in, each laden with something under his smock frock 
or jacket, which they did not care to show while I 
was present ; but I afterwards learned that they were 
the party I had disturbed in the wood, and they 
laughingly told me that it was a wonder I didn't get 
a crack on the head, as they thought I was the head 
keeper, who frequently rode round to Bee if his men 
were on the watch. 

u We had large fields for our cattle near several 
places where the gipsies were accustomed to encamp, 
and I became a frequent visitor, as my duties lay in 
their direction. No matter whatever party came 
into the neighbourhood, I had only to mention the 

name of old Joe C 1 with whom I had become 

quite a favourite, to be received with the greatest 
kindness ; and very many happy quiet hours I spent 
with them when the day's work was over, 

u My friends at last cautioned me, and forbad my 
intimacy with them, as they discovered that I some- 
times got out of my bed-room window and down the 
roof of the old peat house to join the gipsies in their 




incursions into the neighbouring woods ; and I am 
thankful that I was restrained, for I became so 
strangely fascinated by them and the life they led, 
that I might have become unsettled and unsuited for 
any useful calling. At length I was compelled to 
leave the neighbourhood to go and learn a business 
in the town, and it was with the greatest regret I 
had to give up my acquaintanceship with the 

" It is true that my friends and I had helped them 
on many occasions in times of distress and sickness; 
but their gratitude for little favours, and their 
hospitality and kindness to me on all occasions, had 
so won my sympathy aud interest in them that I 
felt the separation deeply. Although forty years 
have passed away since I broke off my acquaintance 
with the gipsies of Dorsetshire, I have a vivid 
recollection of their attachment to us in return for 
little acts of kindness, especially to their children, 
making us feel more secure and our property more 
safe when they were encamped near us; and here 
I m^y add, that they often rendered us valuable 
service by their knowledge of the country in tracking 
and recovering lost cattle/' 

Another instance of the readiness of gipsies to 
assist others who may have been overtaken by 
calamity may be seen in the following well authen- 
ticated story of 


Gipsies, especially those who have travelled through 
the different counties of England, have their favourite 


camping comers, to which they always resort when 
occasion requires ; that is, if they are not prohibited 
by the local authorities from doing so. This pre- 
ference for some camping spots is owing to a variety 
of causes, all of which we need not explain. We 
may, however, state that gipsies are often attracted 
by the beautiful in Nature as well as by the opinions 
they entertain of the population residing in those 
parts where they love to sojourn. The gipsy to 
whom we are about to refer belonged to a large 
encampment pitched in a romantic spot and neigh- 
bourhood, which we will now endeavour briefly to 

This home of the gipsies was a wide, mossy, and 
grassy dell, which was so secluded that it was but 
seldom trodden by the foot of man. On either side 
of it were plantations of fir, and here and there were 
fine old oak, elm, ash, beech, and chestnut trees. Its 
principal forms of life, save when the gipsies were 
there, or a stray traveller who now and then would 
wend his way through it, were a few rabbits and 
hares, and sometimes sheep, looking for ueedtul fond, 
and then having their innocent gambols one with the 
other, and looking as happy as if in the primeval 

During the spring and summer this dell and its 
surroundings ware full of feathered songsters, which 
poured out their sweetest warblings, soft, thrilling, 
inspiring, and almost divine. From the summit of 
a hill not far off might be seen a far extended 
panorama of natural beauty, through which flowed a 
river looking like a cord of silver running through 
a carpet of green velvet. For charming landscape 

k 2 


scenery, Sylvan beauty, and* -splendid prospects, but 
few parts of England could vie with the locality in 
which the gipsies before mentioned were for a time 
sojourning. In addition to the above attractions, 
these gipsy wayfarers had on former occasions been 
kindly treated by some of the residents round about, 
who not only supplied them with a few vegetables 
and straw, but showed great leniency towards them, 
which is not their lot in every place. But now to 
our story. 

It was on a fine summer afternoon that a boy, 
about eight years of age, was bathing in a piece of 
water issuing from some rocks between the dell 
where the gipsies were camping and the village to 
which the boy belonged. He got out of his depth, 
and as no one was there to help him he was drowned, 
but not before he was seen by two children who 
were returning home from school. One of them ran 
back to the village to give the sad intelligence. The 
villagers soon assembled in great numbers; drags 
were used, and other means were employed to recover 
the body. After searching in vain for three hours, 
a young man dived to the bottom of the water, and 
fortunately touched the body with his feet ; he then 
brought it to the surface, and holding it up with 
one hand, swam by the aid of the other to the side of 
the deep waters. It was then wrapt up in a sheet 
a kindly neighbour had taken there for the purpose, 
and carried homewards by the unfortunate boy's 
elder brother. 

In the crowd that followed was a gipsy man be- 
longing to the encampment in the dell, and who had 
been an eye witness of all that had occurred. Before 


reaching home the gipsy gently laid his hand on the 
brother's shoulder, and in a sympathetic tone of voice 
said to him, *' I beg your pardon, sir, but you must 
be tired ; give me the body, and TO carry it ; you go 
on ahead, and break the news to your folks at home, 
and Til drop in with the boy directly.'* He did so, 
and in a few minutes the child was laid upon his 

The gipsy was deeply affected as he gazed upon 
the lifeless body of the boy, who but a few hours 
before was buoyant, happy, and full of life. In 
addressing himself to the weeping family, especially 
to the almost distracted mother, the gipsy said, u It's 
a bad job, poor boy; but it can't be helped now; 
he's better off, you may depend upon it." He then 
left the house, and returned to his camp to rejoin 
his own people. This gipsy asked for no reward, 
and although one was offered to him he refused to 
accept It He seemed to be quite satisfied in having 
rendered a little assistance to the bereaved family. 
The noble act and the generosity, as well as the 
human feeling and sympathy of this wayside gipsy 
on the occasion referred to, are still fragrant in the 
memories of the family to whom the child belonged. 
We may here assert without fear of contradiction 
that this gipsy man, by his voluntary help and sym- 
pathy, triumphed over the animosity, and hatred 
too, which gipsies usually entertain against our own 
people, and also showed that these things were not 
allowed to stand in the way of the impulses of a 
noble and generous heart where human sorrow and 
bereavement had fallen upon others. 




Towor of kindness — An interesting story of a lady and 
gipsy family in Buckinghamshire — The roosted hedge 
wild flowers, and the bright half-crown — Gipsy spirit 
revenge — The man who would join the gipsies — Ilia initio 
— His escape — The gipsies on his track, and the result which 
followed — Gipsy love and jealousy— Edward Bulwcr, after- 
wards Lord Lytton, fascinated by a gipsy girl — Severn! 
days at the tent — The young gipsy men threaten him— His 
forced departure from the gipsies — A daring act, which 
might have cost a life* 

" The still small voice of gratitude/* 

" And if we do but watch the hour, 
There never yet was human power 
Which could evade, if un forgiven , 
The patient search and vigil Umj^ 
Of him who treasure* nj) n wrong**" 




Having already shown that gipsies have been, to 
the best of their ability, hospitable even to stranger**, 
and that as a race they are by no means lacking in 
true practical sympathy with others who may be in 
sorrow, it may naturally be supposed that they are 
susceptible to kindness, for which they have hovn 
known to evince in great numbers of cases the most 
sincere gratitude. 

We think it may be admitted that there is not a 
race of human beings, nor a member of the varied 
tribes of the lower animals, who are not affected and 
influenced by the law of kindness ; and that to a 
^.-greater or less extent they have a remembrance of 
any act of cruelty or humanity b? which* they may 
have been the subjects. The elephant recollects an 
injury done to him, and resents it years afterwards. 
The horse and dog, after a long separation from a 
kind master, will, when they meet, give sundry wags 
of the tail and the neigh of recognition, and in other 
^waya will show that they have not forgotten his 
humane treatment. Even the tiny bird will grieve 
when its friend who feeds it is absent, hut will chirp 
its delight when she or he returns. 

From practical knowledge of the gipsies we can 
assert that they, as a people, not only appreciate acts 
of kindness, but also retain a very grateful recollec- 
tion of them. It can hardly be otherwise, because 
kindness, being a source of comfort and pleasure to 
those on whom it is bestowed, awakens in them a 
feeling of gratitude, whether they are of a generous 
or of aaelfish disposition, just as naturally as light 
and heat come from the sun. 

As an illustration of the correctness of our state- 


ments, we will give the following story, related to us 
by a lady residing in Uxbridge, and as nearly as 
possible in her own words. 

u When I was about fifteen years old," she said, 
" I resided with an uncle in the town of Amersham, 
Buckinghamshire. One morning a gipsy woman, 
carrying a baby not more than fourteen days old, 
called at our house. The child was very ill, and 
cried as if in great pain ; so I gave it some cordial, 
and in a little time it was relieved of its sufferings. 
The gipsy mother thanked me many times, with tears 
in her eyes, bade me 'good morning ' in the politest 
manner imaginable, and then left the house to return, 
she said, at once to their tent pitched a short distance 
from the town. Before she left, however, I told her I 
had always felt an interest in the gipsies, and that if 
she should come again to the neighbourhood she was 
to be sure and call upon me, and to bring with her the 
baby I had fortunately been the means of relieving. 

" Seven long years passed away, but I had never 
heard a word of either mother or child. I was then, 
of course, about twenty-two years old. Year by year 
my duties and responsibilities increased in importance 
and numbers, and my thoughts were so fully occupied 
with domestic and other matters that the gipsy 
mother's visit had almost faded from my mind like 
a dissolving view. One bright summer morning, 
however, a knock was heard at the door, which I 
opened myself, and then saw, to my great astonish- 
ment, a fine, dark-eyed stalwart gipsy man, with one 
hand in his pocket, and bearing on the other arm 
a basket apparently well filled with something or 


" 4 Good-morning, marin,' said he, 4 good-morning 


44 4 What may yon please to want?' I enquired 
ther timidly, which the keen eye of the gipsy 
noticed . 

44 1 1 begs your pardon, marm ; I hopes I haven't 
frightened you/ he said with an assuring Bmile of 
good temper ; 1 but 1*11 tell *ee what I tcants. But 
first let me ask if you remember a gipsy woman 
calling upon you about seven years ago with a little 
hiihb}j as mis ill, and that you gave some cordial 
to ; eh, marm ? 9 

44 In a few moments I told the gipsy I did remem- 
ber, but that I had not seen either of them since. 
4 Do you know anything of them ? * I enquired. 

44 4 Do I know them?* he answered; 4 why bless 
you, marm, that was my wife it was, and that was my 
babby you was so kind to. She got better, you know, 
aud has grown a nice big girl ; I wouldn't part with 
her for all the world, no more would my wife either. 
But I must tell you that ever since the time you saw 
them we've been travelling in the north of England ; 
but I don't think as how a single day has passed 
without our talking of your kindness to the child. 
A few days ago we reached a place about eight or 
nine miles from here, and so says I to my wife, I 
think I'll go over to Amersham one of these days 
and try to find out the young lady as was so kind to 
the child, and let her see that we gipsies, bad as we 
are, don't easily forget a kind act. And what do you 
think my wife said, inarm ? * 

44 4 Indeed I cannot tell,' I replied, 

444 Why, she said, so you shall, my dear; aud 1*11 


send the young lady something by way of a little * 
present, and here it is, marm.' 

" He then held up his arm, from which was sus- — J 
pended a basket containing the present referred to, 
and other little articles, covered over with bouquets a 
of wild flowers gathered by the hands of that d% 
untutored gipsy from the banks and hedgerows by 
the way. Then, taking from his pocket a very ^ 
bright half-crown which he held in the palm of his e 
hand, and looking at it, said, ( And you must take &. 
that too, marm ; I've saved him many's a long day to o 
give you ; and you must take what the basket has 
in it, because my wife said I wasn't to go back 2-1 
unless you do so, and you 11 take this 'ere half-crown, « * 
wont ee, marm ? 9 

" I was literally compelled to accept the presents, 
and the money too, in order to satisfy him. In the ^ 
basket I found some small articles manufactured by 
the gipsies, and a roasted hedgehog, considered by this ^ 
people to be a great delicacy, and which I was given ^ 
to understand the gipsy woman thought I should 
regard as such, and eat with as great a relish as they ^ 
themselves would have done. I returned the basket 
to the gipsy, and of course thanked him for the pre- - 
sents, and especially for their grateful remembrance * 
of my little kindness to their child seven years before. 
He then bade me * good-morning/ and seemed to 4 
walk away, if not with all the dignity of a duke, yet 
as if satisfied he had discharged an imperative but 
pleasant duty. 

"As he receded from my view I could hear him 
whistling that well known tune 4 yankee doodle went 
to town upon a little pony.' He was soon out of 


sig-ht ; but from that day to this I have Dot seen or 
heard anything either of the gipsy man, his wife, or 
their child. Their gratitude, however, is fresh in my 
memory* Although several years have rolled away 
since my interview with that gipsy, I have not for- 
gotten it. Even the increasing cares and anxieties 
of advancing life have not obliterated either from 
my heart or mind the circumstances I have en- 
deavoured to describe/' 

Who, after reading the above interesting narrative, 
csan say that all the gipsy people are totally destitute 
of all good moral characteristics ? or that acta of 
Idndncss are not appreciated by them, or that they 
sire entirely disregarded and forgotten by them ? We 
should have to look a long time before we could find 
among our own people a finer appreciation of an act 
of kindness than we find in the long cherished 
remembrance of the act referred to on the part of 
that dark, unlettered gipsy man and his wife. 

That some gipsies have been the recipients of 
favours for which they have shown hut little gratitude 
may be admitted. But this has arisen, in some cases, 
from want of opportimitki to express their gratitude 
rather than from a want of grateful feeling. If it 
were necessary, numbers of proofs of their gratitude 
could be adduced of the most authentic kind, 

Gipsies know it is their duty to be thankful for 
favours shown them, and that in their peculiar con- 
dition it is good policy on their part to be so. How 
true it is, that the humble current of little kindnesses 
poms a copious tribute into the store of human 
affections, and does more to soothe the heart and to 
soften down the sterner passions of human nature 


than all the compulsory measures in the world could 
ever effect. 

We remember reading, some years since, the fol- 
lowing lines : 

" Tender handed squeeze a nettle, 

And it stings yon for your pains; 
Grasp it like a man of mettle, 

And it soft as silk remains. 
Thus it is with vulgar natures ; 

Treat them kindly, they rebel ; 
Use them rough as nutmeg graters, 

Then the rogues obey you well." 

Although in the above poetic effusion there may 
be some ingredients of truth, and some natures in the 
world to whom the treatment referred to may be 
both necessary and useful, yet from our personal 
knowledge of the gipsies we are compelled to state 
that the last four lines certainly cannot apply to 


' It is one of the problems of human nature that in 
the very same breast may exist the most conflicting 
passions and good moral attributes, which, according 
to circumstances, may be made to act in totally 
different and opposite ways. The same mind that 
cherishes with pleasure the remembrance of a kind 
act will also retain with great bitterness of feeling 
the recollection of a wrong done, or an insult offered, 
especially by those who entertain a high sense of 
their own honour. 

If the gipsies never forget an act of kindness, 
they seldom forgive those who have intentionally done 
them an injury, whether it has been by maliciously 


giving information againBt them to the civil autho- 
rities, or by betraying the confidence they have 
reposed in them. Those who have joined the gipsy 
fraternity, and afterwards revealed to others the 
secrets and mode of their initiation, have sometimes 
been the victims of a spirit of deep, dark, and bitter 
revenge, which is one, if not the worst, trait of the 
gipsy character. Instances are known in which men 
of good position in society, and with a naturally 
strong love of the romantic, have, under some un- 
controllable power and fascination, as evanescent 
as the floating mist, been induced to apply for 
admission amongst the gipsies, which has taken 
place by a sort of freemasonry process, but who, 
tiring of such a life, have laid their plans to leave 
it, have succeeded in doing so, but at a terrible cost, 
as the following story will show* 

Some years since we were having a pleasant 
country drive with a friend residing at Tring, and 
who was much interested in the gipsy race. In our 
journey we happened to meet a gipsy woman, whicli 
reminded our friend of a story he said he had read, 
and which in substance was as follows. As we 
have no reason to doubt the accuracy of our friend's 
information, we give it here as an illustration of one 
characteristic of the gipsy people as shown under 
similar circumstances to those we are about to 

•* A few years since," he said, u some gipsies who 
were encamped in the north were visited by a 
person who had the appearance of a well-to-do 
gentleman. He was about thirty years of age, full 
of life and energy. At the time of his visit to the 


camp he was romowhat elated by wine, of which it 
appeal's he had partaken with some acquaintance 
living not far off. What he saw at the encampment 
that so attracted and lured him on to take the couxve 
he did, we do not pretend to know. But as there 
never was an effect without a cause, it is indis- 
putably certain that he was under some kind of 
influence which he could not resist. At any rate, 
he was Lent upon becoming a member of the gipsy 
fraternity, and expressed his willingness to be made 
so according to the rites and customs usually ob- 
served by gipsies on these occasions. 

"It is, however, right to state, that seeing the 
anti-temperance condition of the young man's brain 
when he made this request, the gipsies at first 
objected to comply with his wish. Yet an offer of 
money by him was too tempting to their cupidity 
for them to refuse so good a chance of thus easily 
obtaining the sum he offered. The gipsies therefore 
complied with the wish of the gentleman, who made 
a vow that he would be true to the conditions im- 
posed upon him, would faithfully fulfil the promises 
he had made, that he would reveal none of their 
secrets, but would in every way promote the 
interests of the gang to which he had become 

" But the sound sleep of a long night changed the 
entire aspect of affairs, at least, to his mind. His 
brain had become clearer, and as he began to realize 
his position, and to remember the transactions of the 
previous day, and also to look upon his ne w companions 
and their strange surroundings, he felt a pang of 
regret for acting in the foolish manner he had done. 


a was by no means in the best of moods ; in fact 
became taciturn, sullen, dissatisfied, and uneasy, 
iich did not escape the eyes of the gipsies. His 
:>vements, and many little hints he now and then 
rew out, made the gipsies suspicions that he would 
eiiipt at some time or other to make his escape* 
*b* caused them to be on the alert, and to keep a 
rict watch over him, so as to prevent him from 
rrying out his purpose. 

" The reasons, our friend supposed, the gipsies 
\d for using these precautionary measures were, 
nst, that if they could only reconcile him to reinnin 
ith them, and to become accustomed to their own 
•ee mode of life, they would have every chance of 
wiving from hiin, or through him, supplies of 
loncy, of which they were no doubt very often in 
L eed; the other reason, he thought, might be that 
s the gipsies had in the ceremonies of the previous 
Ifiy made known to their new member many, if not 
dl the secrets of their craft, they would be afraid 
f he left them that he would divulge some of these 
secrete to others, and so thereby increase the ill- 
eeling already existing against them, and perhaps, 
n some way or other, bring trouble upon them. 

* Be this as it may, the gentleman succeeded after a 
short sojourn in getting out of the clutches of these 
wandering gipsies. It appears that he at once made 
Ids way home, where, through fear, he remained in 
« elusion a long time. But the gipsies found him 
out, and at intervals gave palpable proofs of their 
presence in the neighbourhood of his residence. 
Finding he was likely to be annoyed by these men, 
who he had reason to believe belonged to the 



encampment he had left, he resolved tipon going 
to the Continent, thinking he should there be free 
from molestation. He therefore embarked on board 
a steamer about to leave one of our northern ports 
for Hamburgh. At the time she was due there, two 
gipsy men were waiting on the quay for her arrival, 
but she did not make her appearance, much to their* 

" These men then ascertained that the vessel thej^ 
had waited for had put into another port, into which* 
she had been driven by stress of weather. They 
hastened thither in hope of coming in contact witfci 
the man they wanted. Although they made many 
enquiries, and gave a description of him, they diJ 
not succeed in finding him. They were, however, 
informed that such a person had landed there from 
the Hamburgh steamer, and was supposed to have 
gone in the direction of Italy. 

" The energy of the spirit of revenge brooding in 
the hearts of these men increased their efforts and 
strengthened their determination to overtake and to 
punish him. To Italy they went, but after a long 
search failed to find him. They then returned to 
their family, still camping here and there in the 
north, to bide their time, to keep on the alert, and 
to make enquiries, which they did in many in- 
direct ways, about the return of the man they still 
felt resolved to castigate, even more severely than at 
first, because of the money and time they had wasted 
in pursuing him. 

" After the lapse of several months he did return 
from the Continent, and of course went direct to his 
home in the north, where he deemed it necessary to 


remain secluded for awhile. The gipsies having 
heard of his return, set about forming new plans in 
order to have their revenge. 

" It happened that the gentleman some time after 
this had a ball at his mansion » which was attended 
by a large party of friends. It was a grand festive 
night ; the rooms were brilliantly illuminated, music 
resounded through every part of the spacious 
building, and there was nothing wanting to con- 
tribute to the happiness of the host or the enjoyment 
of his guests. 

"It was getting rather late; the company had 
reached the climax of pleasurable excitement when 
one of the servants announced to the host that a 
person then waiting outside the front door, having 
refused to enter, had a very important message 
which he was to deliver to him and to him only. 
The gentleman, thrown off his guard, hastened 
thither, when suddenly from behind one of the 
pillars of the portico a man of stalwart frame, wrapt 
up in a long top coat, and with his face partially 
hidden, in a moment rushed upon the host, and with 
a short dagger inflicted a wound in his side, and 
threw him to the ground. He then with a subdued 
hut exultant yell left the door, and running with all 
his might soon disappeared in the darkness. 

" The guests, who were informed by the servant of 
what had occurred, became alarmed. But as this 
villainous attempt on the life of their host occupied 
everybody's attention, it was too late to give pursuit 
to the man who had committed this foul act. 

" Although subsequently suspicion fell upon one of 
the gipsy men belonging to the encampment before 



mentioned, and who having been found was charged 
with this murderous intention, our friend said that 
as the wound inflicted upon the complainant did 
not prove fatal, summary punishment only was 
inflicted upon the gipsy, who thus, but very 
narrowly, escaped the graver charge of having 
committed murder. Our informant said that the 
man who committed the act was no doubt one of the 
gipsies who had been on the Continent in search of 
the man who had, as before described, been initiated 
into the gipsy fraternity, and that subsequent events 
seemed to point to the correctness of this supposition, 
It appears the gipsies at once left the neighbour- 
hood, and as nothing was heard of their whereabouts, 
the gentleman at the mansion lived there a long 
time without further annoyance from the gipsies, 
whose acquaintance he had made at so terrible a 


From the ' Life and Letters of the late Edward 
Bulwer Lord Lytton,' we gather the following 
account of a little adventure of his when a young 
man about twenty-one years of age. 

It appears that on one occasion when walking 
homewards he was accosted by a gipsy girl, who 
said she should like to tell him his fortune. He 
was so struck with the beauty of this young sybil 
that he at once crossed her hand with a piece of 
silver, and told her to proceed. She did so, reading 
very carefully the lines on his hand, and then told 
him what they indicated in reference to his future 
life. After this he asked her several questions 


respecting her own people, all of which she 
answered so intelligently and simply that he was 
induced to ask her if she thought there would be 
any objection to his remaining with her and her 
tribe for a few days. To this she answered, " there 
would be no objection on their part, if he as a 
gentleman could put up with their kind of life/' 

They then walked on together until they came 
to a large tent, into which he was led by the girl, 
and then introduced to an aged gipsy woman, who 
sat bending over a wood fire* To her the child said 
something, but she shook her head in dissent. The 
gipsy girl, however, persevered, and at last talked 
the old woman into acquiescence* Having arranged 
for him to remain with them, the girl said if he had 
any money with him be had better give it up to her 
grandmother, as it would be safer than in his 
own pocket, and that when he wished to leave 
ihem it would be returned to him. He did as the 
girl wished him, and the money slid into the old 
gipsy's pocket. 

After this the old woman strewed on the ground 
some embers from the fire, and bade young Bulwer 
stand in them- She then sent the girl (who was 
her granddaughter) for the other gipsies, about a 
dozen in number, who all came and looked on. The 
aged gipsy woman then took his right hand in hers, 
and pointing to the embers beneath his feet, 
addressed the assembly in the gipsy tongue. The 
gipsies all stood listening reverently. When she had 
finished they bowed their heads, and then by word 
and sign made him understand he was welcome to 
the gipsy cheer, 

s 2 


They then seated themselves round the great 
fire, over which was a large pot containing bread, 
potatoes, fragments of meat stewed to rags, and 
savoured with herbs. Of this they all, by-and-by, 
partook with a great relish. The grandmother, 
however, had a dish of her own, namely, a broiled 
hedgehog that had been found in a trap. 

During the young man's stay of five or six days 
it was evident the gipsy girl's affection was fixed 
upon him, and of which she gave many unmistakable 
signs. Her simple but endearing manner had also 
produced the same effect upon young Bulwer, who 
had even loved her from the moment when he met 
her as before described. 

One morning she was reserved and cool, and 
being asked by the young man the reason, she said 
abruptly, " Tell me, and tell me truly, do you love 
me ? " to which he replied, " I do." 

" Will you marry me then ? " she asked him. 

" Marry you ! " he said — " impossible." 

The girl thinking he did not quite understand her 
meaning said, " I don't mean marry me as you 
marry, but marry me as we marry," which she 
said was simply for the two to break a piece of 
burnt earth or a tile into halves in the presence of 
her grandmother. " If we do this our marriage will 
last five years." Although he did not consent to 
this proposition, the girl looked, just at that time, to 
him more charming than ever. 

On that evening and the next day he discovered 
he had excited the ill-will of two or three of the 
young gipsy men, who were rude and insolent to 
him, and told him he had been long enough there, 



and was in their way. Young Bulwer and the girl 
then walked a short way from the tent, but were 
followed by the gipsy men, who glared angrily at 
them as they passed. The girl, however, spoke to 
them, high words passed, but at last the gipsy men 
sullenly slunk away. 

It was night, all in the tents were asleep save the 
old woman, the girl, and young Bulwer, who was 
lying in a corner of the encampment, and while 
there saw the gipsy girl and her grandmother go 
out of the tent. He then crept from his corner and 
stepped into the open air. 

He found the old crone and the child under the 
shadow of the wood, and saw the girl was weeping. 
The old woman put her fingers to her lips, and then 
told him to follow her through a gap in the hedge 
into the shelter of the wood itself. The girl 
remained with her face buried in her hands. 

When they were in the wood the old gipsy said 
to him, " You must leave us, you're in danger, 
The young men are jealous of you; their blood's 
up ; I cannot keep it down ; I can do what I like 
with all except love and jealousy ; you must go,** 

But he gave her to understand that he could not 
go and lea ve the girl he then loved so much behind 

But both said " it must be so/* They knew the 
feeling of jealousy was becoming stronger against 
him every hour, and that there was danger of their 
guest being injured by the young gipsy men who 
had already been insolent to him, and had told him 
to be off. 

Finding that matters were assuming a serious 


aspect, Bulwer told the old woman she might give 
the money he had handed to her to the gipsy met* 
if they would only allow him to remain there ^ 
week or two longer. After some more conversation 
on the subject of his departure, the two women an^ 
their guest retired to their respective places of res0^' 
But an uneasy night was passed by the latter, wh^^ 
slept later than usual. 

When he awoke he found the gipsies assemblecSS 
round the tent. The young men who had previously* 
exhibited so much jealousy were there, shook handi— M 
with him, and looked friendly. He thought th^^ 
bribe had brought about the change. He ™ a m T 
however, mistaken, for they said to him, " You mus^Vt 
leave us ; we'll accompany you part of the way, anc^B 
wish you speed and luck." 

Bulwer then turned round to look for Mirny (ai* — 3 
he called the gipsy girl), but she was gone ; there^S 
was his breakfast which had been prepared by the^^s 
old gipsy, but he left it untouched. He then aske d 
the grandmother if he should not see the girl again ?^»? 
" Husb ! " said the gipsy ; " leave that to me.'* He ^ 
then took his knapsack and was going, when the old 
woman drew him aside and slipped his money into ^ 
his hand, every farthing of it, and would not take ^ 
a penny, although he pressed her to do so. The men 
accompanied him as they hp,d promised, and then 
formally took leave of him. 

Three miles further on he was startled by the 
rustling of the thick branches of a tree, from behind 
which came Mirny. In a moment she was by his 
side, then tightly holding him in her arms looked 
into his eyes, kissed his face and even his garments. 



In a minute she sprang away, and pointing with her 
finger to her open palm said, "This is the sorrow 
foretold to me ; see, it begins so soon, and goes on to 
the end of life/* She darted into the wood ; pursuit 
was in vain ; she was gone, and lost to young Bulwer 
for ever. 


We received the following information from a 
person who assured us he was well acquainted with 
the circumstances of the case we are about to relate. 
The annual fair held in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, 
is usually attended by great numbers of gipsies. On 
one occasion a gipsy girl about eighteen years old, 
and of great personal beauty, was at the fair, but 
spent part of the day in calling at different houses 
in order to dispose of a few clothes-pegs, tin-ware, 
combs, and other small articles. 

She happened when thus engaged to meet a 
young man, a visitor at the fair, who had indulged 
much too freely in beer, and who not only accosted 
her in a very familiar way, but laying his hands on 
her shoulders, and before she was aware of his 
intentions, gave her a kiss. She became exceedingly 
angry, and gave him to understand he might have 
to repent of his impudent and daring act. Instead 
of offering an apology, he made himself more 
obnoxious to the girl by laughing at her for making 
such a fuss about a simple kiss. 

When she returned to the tent at night she told 
her people what had occurred, gave a description of 
the man, and all the information she could about 
him* Two of the giffsy men, one the brother, tbc 


other the affianced husband of the girl, swore to 
avenge the insult she had been subjected to, by 
inflicting on the fellow, in their own peculiar way, 
the most severe punishment. 

Urged on by the spirit of revenge, they succeeded 
in obtaining some clue to his whereabouts, and as the 
gipsies had been seen near there, and their intentions 
being well known, the delinquent became fearful that 
if he remained there he might have to suffer some 
" grievous bodily harm " for the liberty he had taken 
with the gipsy girl. He therefore wisely left the 
neighbourhood, where he had lived some time, and 
had to go to another some distance off, in order to 
escape the vengeance of the gipsy men. Whether 
the young man was afterwards found out or not and 
punished for his conduct by any member of the 
gipsy tribe our informant knew not. But as an 
injury done by any one to a gipsy is always 
made known, and a description of the offender 
given to other gipsies traversing different parts of 
the country, they constitute a net work of detectives, 
ever on the look out for the party they want to 
punish. The pleasure of giving a kiss, even to a 
pretty gipsy girl, is hardly worth running the risk 
of an unpleasant and severe chastisement from the 
hands of gipsy men, which may, in all probability 
sooner or later, overtake the person who has insulted 
them, no matter in what way it has been done. 

Companionship — Alleged cruelty by the gipsies— Blackhoath, 
and Hampatead Heath— Poisonous drugs and powders — Acts 
of which gipsies are not guilty— What Augustus Sala saya— 
A Somers Town gipsy scissors grinder and his donkey 
" Jack '—Old " Jet " and her sand bank stable— The dogs of 

gipsies — A gipsy girl and her cat — Gipsies and their 
feathered companions— A bantam cock with gold rings* 

The man who cannot love a horse or dog 
Must bo in nature harder than the hog, 
E'en gipsies, though a rude and wandering race, 
Have hearts in which affection has a place; 
They love each other — just as others do ; 
They love their horses, dogs, and donkeys too. 

The companionship of human friends, and even of 
animals, is often a reliever of the monotony of life, 


and, in some cases, helps to soften the sorrows and 
to lighten the troubles which are, more or less, the 
lot of all mankind. It is especially so to those who 
have confidence in the sincerity and sympathy ot 
their fellow-men ; and who watch the instincts, aflFec- — 
tion, fidelity, love, hatred, and the mental qualities 
even of the lower animals, by whom many happy 
and encouraging thoughts are suggested, and from-^n 
whom may be derived many practical and usefuL^C 

Much as the gipsies have been accused of being 
coarse and even brutish race, they neverthele 
exhibit a kindly feeling and thoughtfulness toward 
all with whom they are associated. Their treatment 
of animals is worthy of notice. We have already 
observed that one prolific source of gain to some 
gipsies is that of horse-dealing. They may be see 
at many of our markets and fairs with numbers oi 
horses, ponies, and donkeys, whose condition is often 
very bad. It is only fair to state that these animal 
are frequently purchased by them in this state at m~ 
very low price. They are, however, often carefully 
tended and well fed, perhaps at the expense of somo 
other person's rich pasture, and then sold at a larg^ 

It is unfortunate for the gipsies that there are 
many persons who take advantage of every oppor- 
tunity to magnify their faults, and who endeavour 
to embitter public feeling against them by giving" 
dark pictures of cruelty to their horses, and es- 
pecially to their donkeys on Hampstead Heath, 
Blackheath, at feasts, fairs, and races, and seaside 
resorts, where they let them out to young ladies or 



gentlemen, or to anybody else, at a penny a ride for 
bo many turns of a certain distance, or for so much 
money per hour or half hour, as may be agreed 

That the sides of gipsy donkeys are familiar with 
the weight of thick sticks and the butt ends of 
whips, that the sounds of the thwacks they receive 
are often heard above the noise of the congregated 
masses of men, women, and children, and that the 
poor belaboured animals are sometimes ready to fall 
down from sheer exhaustion, is unfortunately too 

But are the gipsies alone to blame for this treat- 
ment ? The places referred to are more favourable 
to the gipsies than any other for making a little 
extra money. They are their harvest fields, which 
they won't neglect if they can help it. We admit, 
however, that this is no justification for the cruelty 
which, in these places, is often inflicted upon these 
poor dumb dependents. 

If a visitor to the places mentioned will pay 
attention to the bargains made for donkey rides, and 
to the conditions that even fair young ladies and 
accomplished yaung gentlemen impose upon the owners 
to make the animals " go fast/' and also to the 
threats, " that if they don't do so they won't pay 
them any money,** such visitor will soon discover 
that gipsy boys and men have to run, and to work 
too hard for the pittance they get to be cruel from 
choice, or to be exclusively guilty of this species of 
inhumanity, or to derive any pleasure from ill-using 
the animals whom they well know are their bread- 
" iners* 


It is well known that many gipsies regret to treat 
their animals in this way, and that they do not 
hesitate to charge those who hire them on the 
conditions described as being the principal cause of 
the cruelties they inflict, because they must at any 
price be gratified with a donkey ride but according 
to their own notions and fancies of equestrian 

While we may see from the foregoing observations 
that the gipsies may justly claim exemption, in a 
considerable degree, from charges of wanton cruelty 
to their animals, we are compelled to accuse them of 
being less considerate of those belonging to other 
people ; and as we have no desire to be monocular 
in our views of the habits, character, and customs of 
the gipsies, we will quote what George Borrow says 
respecting certain practices of which they are some- 
times guilty. 


are used by gipsies, not only in Spain, but also & 
England, in two ways ; " by one they merely cause 
disease in the animals, with the view of receiving 
money for curing them upon offering their services; 
the poison is generally administered by powders 
cast at night into the mangers of the animals ; this 
way is only practised upon the larger cattle, such as 
horses and cows." The other, which they practice 
chiefly on swine, is explained in detail in the 
seventh chapter. 

There is no doubt that a feeling of revenge 
against their enemies, and the poverty of some of 


fie gipsies, have much to do with the above cruel 

Although it must be admitted that gipsies have 
een justly charged and fined for cruelty to their 
working animals, yet such cases are by no means 
umerous, especially when we consider that nearly 
[I gipsy families possess one or more horses or 
Diikeys for their own use, and that many gipsy 
orse-dealers have sometimes in their possession great 
umbers of these animals. In many cases the cruelty 
rith which these men are charged is more of a uega- 
ive than of a positive character, arising generally 
rom an inability on the part of their owners to procure 
or their animals a sufficient amount of proper food. 

If those acts of inhumanity of which the gipsies 
lave been found to be guilty be compared with many 
)f those committed by other men who have higher 
pretensions to education, refinement, and social 
position than gipsies aspire to, we shall discover a 
wide difference in the amount of moral guilt that 
ibould be attached to them. While gipsy cruelty 
consists in most cases of working horses in an unfit 
state, gipsies are rarely guilty of what we may term 
ntentional, wanton, flagrant, and atrocious acts of 

Among men of our own race may be found those 
in possession of the most cruel and demoralizing 
instincts. In fact we could relate acts of cruelty 
committed by them which would not only horrify 
but even terrify those who have the smallest spark of 
humanity in their hearts. No savage, maddened by 
the prospect of a feast of human blood, could be more 
ngeniously wicked in the cruel tortures he might 


inflict to secure his victim than are some men w^B&o 
denounce the gipsies as a dark, degraded, ignoratnz^A, 
rough, and brutal race. 

We do not pretend to know all the secret or pubET—lic 
acts of cruelty committed by our gipsy nomads, b^^Dut 
we may confidently state that we have no persoi«mial 
knowledge of the gipsies ever 'participating either in 
the sport of pigeon shooting or of fox hunting, in 
badger baiting, or cock fighting. We are not awaJM ' e, 
though fond as they are of keeping dogs, that th^ ey 
train them to fight in order to gain amusement fro^=>m 
such savage encounters. 

As lovers of the solitude of our woods and glerr=w, 
gipsies seem to value too highly the feather^^d 
musicians of Nature and their sweet songs ever to 
guilty of that fearful crime of snaring them and th^^ n 
running red-hot wires through their eyes to ma^^ e 
them sing better, in hope of obtaining, on tL^ in 
account, a much higher price for them. But let H^^J 
reader traverse some low parts of London, pay a vi^^ 1 * 
to bird-fair, and peer into the dingy shops often fi^ ^ 
of birds, but many of them sightless through tL-^ ,e 
practice we have referred to, and let him enquire wl*^ 30 
have secured these little frail prisoners and performc^^^ 
the shocking, cruel, and abominable operations v^* e 
have mentioned. We do not hesitate to say th^^ 
gipsies were not the agents, but men of our own rac^* 
with far less feeling hearts even than those possessed 
by the most degraded and untutored gipsies. 

Although we have been compelled to draw a some- 
what dark picture of the life of those gipsy donkeys 
found in the suburban parts of London and other 
large towns where they are employed as already 


described, and sometimes so cruelly treated, yet there 
is another aspect of gipsy donkey life which should not 
be overlooked. We refer particularly to those who 
live the most of their time in remote districts, and 
but seldom, if ever, visit the great centres of commer- 
cial life, activity, and fashionable pleasures. It is of 
these rustic quadrupeds that 


"Of all the indigent owners of asses in England, I 
am inclined to think the gipsies treat their donkeys 
with the smallest amount of unkindness. In the 
first place, their nomadic existence enables them to 
give the animals plenty of fresh fodder. The soft 
little grey foalsgrow up with the browned-skin Romany 
children, and in the end a Bohemian, or rather a 
Bedouin tent kind of camaraderie grows up between 
the two-footed and the four-footed wanderers. The 
gipsy's donkey is usually plump, his eye is usually 
bright, and his nose has a contented air; symptoms 
which, without being the slightest judge of assinine 
science, I always accept as proofs of a donkey s pros- 
perity in the world," 

The donkey we are now about to refer to appears 
to have been equally fortunate as those so truly 
described by Mr. Sala in the preceding lines. This 
animal belonged, not a very long time since, to 


and was certainly one of the finest donkeys in 
London, From its sleek appearance, good condition, 


and well curried coat, any one might have guaranteed 
that had it been exhibited at any of the popular 
Crystal Palace donkey shows, it would have gained 
a prize and won for its owner a medal for his 
humanity. "Jack" was the name of this animal, 
and its master a mender of pots and kettles, a 
scissors and knife grinder. The gipsy used neither 
goad, whip, nor stick to make Jack perform his 
duty; and he told us that he never intended his 
donkey to make the acquaintance of either of those 
instruments of torture. He had so trained the 
animal that a motion, a word, or a look was quite 
sufficient for Jack to understand his master. 

On one occasion we were in conversation with 
the gipsy, when we saw the donkey look round to 
where we were standing. After a few minutes he 
looked round again, and made a noise very much 
like a subdued grunt. 

" What does your donkey mean ? " we asked the 


" O, sir ! " he said, " you must know that I go my 
regular rounds every day, which Jack knows as 
well as I do ; so he wants to get through his work, 
and home to his food, for you see, sir, I give him 
plenty of it and good ; and in addition to that he has 
comfortable quarters out of the wet and cold. 
Jack wants me to be moving ; but go on, sir, and 
he'll give me another kind of reminder directly, 
you'll see." 

This was soon given, by Jack shaking the 
harness, the razor-grinding machine, and the whole 
paraphernalia of tinkering ; and then by a pawing 
of the ground with his fore-feet, another turn of 


t' 1 ^ bead, and finally by a sonorous braying almost 
» s loud and musical as a dozen trombones playing at 
same time. 

**Now then, sir/* said the gipsy, "I must be 
°^ ; Jack thinks IVe gossiped long enough, and 
V^rhaps he's right, for the days are short, and the 
leather cold. So Til bid you good-morning/' 

Jack trotted off and his master after him. Both 
were soon out of sight, but not out of mind. What 
we had seen strengthened our impression that gipsies 
are, after all, as humane and kind to their animals 
as other folks are. Jack was not only well fed, but 
full of spirits, active and intelligent, which the gipsy 
seemed to be proud of and to appreciate. Through 
proper treatment Jack was able in an eminent 
degree to contribute not only to his own comfort, 
biit to the maintenance of a whole gipsy family. 

^nme time ago a gentleman told us that he knew 
of a dying gipsy who bequeathed to his surviving 
family a favourite donkey, conditionally that they 
used him well Thev did so, and when he became 
too feeble to work he was tied to the hindermost 
portion of the cart, which it followed in their journeys. 
Failing strength at last compelled them to end his 
life; his skin was taken off, cured, and kept as a 
souvenir for many years, 


The following story of the humane treatment of i\n 
old mare named Jet, which was sold by a gentle- 
man we knew very intimately to some gipsies 
encamped on an adjacent common, may be perused 


with interest. Jet had always been well fed by 
her previous owner, and carefully groomed, and as 
she had never been overworked, a good part of her 
life had been a tolerably happy and pleasant one. 

Whatever other reason old Jets master could 
have assigned for parting with her, one was that 
a member of the encampment referred to expressed a 
wish to purchase the mare. It was in the middle of 
a very severe winter that Jet was sold to this 
man, conditionally that he would promise to use her 
well, which assurance he readily gave. 

Some days after Jets departure we visited the 
gipsies on the common for the purpose of ascertaining 
how it fared with her. As we approached the tents, 
which were several in number, we heard the mingled 
voices of men and women, and the merry noise of 
children, but saw no sign of the old mare. " Sold to 
some one else, or dead through starvation and cold," 
were the first thoughts- that flitted through our mind. 

At this moment one of the gipsy men suddenly 
appeared, and asked somewhat abruptly what we 
wanted. We informed him that a few days pre- 
viously either he or one of the gipsies there encamped 
had purchased from a gentleman a mare called Jet, 
and that we were anxious to know what had become 
of her. 

The gipsy smiled, and said, "The animal's all 
right, sir, she's out of the cold, has plenty to eat, 
and is as snug as we are in our tents, for she has 
one of her own, you see, and can't help being 
comfortable, 'specially as she has nothing to do just 
now, which seems to agree with the * old girl ' 
very well." 


All the gipsy had said was true. They had made, 
by cutting into an embankment of sand, a temporary 
stable, the roof of which was of sticks and straw, 
and sods intended to keep them in place. Although 
Jet was somewhat cramped for room, she had plenty 
of provender, was well sheltered from the cold north- 
east wind, and really looked none the worse for an 
exchange of masters. We hardly need say that this 
sand bank stable, which was fully the length of 
the mare's body, had no other means of ventilation 
and of light than the entrance into it, which, 
having a southern aspect, implied protection from 
the cold wind which might blow from the opposite 

"You needn't be uneasy about the old mare, 
"young man," said the gipsy, u Well take care of 
lier, and treat her well, not only for our own sakes 
Imt for his who sold her to us* We rather think 
lie is a good sort, at any rate he's been kinder to us 
than some of your folks are in the habit of being," 
.After this visit we saw no more of poor old Jet, but 
often wished she might always receive the same 

kindness she did when she began her nomadic 


As a race the gipsies do not overload or overdrive 
their animals, either in their ordinary hawking 
business, or when performing long journeys- A 
rural policeman once said to us, " It is a notable 
fact, sir, that when they stop at roadside inns for 
refreshment the gipsies very seldom regale them- 
selves before ungearing their horses, ponies and 
donkeys for the purpose of giving them something 
to eat and drink," 

T 2 



are kindly treated and valued by their owners 
because of their utility, especially in guarding their 
vans and other property, and even their children, 
during the time the adults are absent from them. 
In training them for this and other purposes, we 
are not aware that any unnecessary severity is used. 
We have had opportunities of witnessing some very 
interesting feats performed by dogs belonging to 
gipsies, which have not only given proofs of the 
intelligence of these animals, but also of kind treat- 
ment extended to them during the period of training. 
Gipsy dogs seem to understand that they are ex- 
pected to be always on the watch, and that when a 
stranger makes his appearance at the encampment, 
to exercise something like a detective qualification 
as to the character and intentions of the visitor. Of 
course gipsy dogs are not thought-readers, and 
sometimes commit great blunders by exhibitions of 
ferocity and loud barkings at those who may have 
sympathy with and the best of all feelings towards 
the gipsy race. Nevertheless, they show their fidelity 
to their owners even in their mistaken hostility to 
others. They act according to their knowledge and 
judgment, and seem to say to strangers whom they 
may regard as intruders, " Mind what you do ; I 
am in great authority here, and may interfere with 
you if your conduct should in any way require me 
to do so." 

It was on a calm evening in autumn, just as the 
twilight was deepening into darkness, that we paid 


a visit to one of the Smith family of gipsies, when 
suddenly from behind a large tent came a lurcher 
dog, as if intent upon giving us a practical proof 
o| his right and power to punish us for assuming to 
come within the precincts of gipsydom. Being just 
light enough for the dog to see that our eye was 
fixed at the same moment upon his, and hearing us 
say, ** Beside lay jukd* (lie down, dog), it had the 
wonderful effect, not only of stopping his barking, 
but making him drop his tail, turn round, and slink 
back again to his place behind the tent. " Ha ! 
lia ! M half laughingly said the gipsy, ** the dog 
will not disturb you again, for you may depend 
tipon it he'll imagine because yon said thai hit of 
gipsy that you are one of our men, as I don t 
suppose he ever heard in his life before any Gorjo 
use a word or sentence of our own dialect." 


It may at first sight appear to be a very remark- 
able thing that while horses, ponies, donkeys, fowls, 
parrots, canaries, and other song birds often form a 
part of gipsy encampments, we have no recollection 
of ever having seen a cat of any breed or colour in 
company with gipsies. Perhaps the wandering life 
of this people constitutes the reason why cats are but 
seldom seen among them. 

Leland says : ** One day I questioned a gipsy as to 
cats, and what his opinion was of black ones?" 
His reply was, M Gipsies never have black cats in the 
house, because they are unearthly creatures, and 
things of the devil ; and the old devil, you know, is 


black, and has four legs, and two arms, and a head. 
But white cats are good, for they are like the white 
ghosts of ladies/' 


A correspondent of the Animal World says: 
" While taking a country walk I met a young gipsy 
girl carrying a large open basket, in which a fine 
tabby cat was contentedly seated. The girl told me 
she had the cat when a kitten, and was very fond of 
it, a fact borne out by its good condition and perfect 
tameness ; she said it would follow like a dog, and 
they were not a bit afraid of losing it, for it never 
tried to get away from them, and always went with 
them in their migrations. Does not the humanity of 
the homeless gipsy teach a lesson of kindness to 
many persons who, though in much better circum- 
stances, leave their cats in empty houses to starve ? " 


We have already intimated that some gipsies keep 
pet birds, to which they become much attached, and 
often regard as companions essential to their own 

On the occasion of one of our visits to Sylvester 
Boswell we noticed a nearly full grown fowl in close 
proximity to his tent and van looking for its morning 
meal. He informed us that when the fowl was only 
two days old it lost its maternal parent, who was 
killed by accident. The gipsy carefully fed it, ten- 
derly carried it in his bosom for warmth, and con- 


tinned to do so until it was able to run about. When 
sufficiently grown, it would roost under the tent, was 
his companion by night, and during the daytime 
when he was at home it would follow him about like 
a child. 

A lady of Colchester told us that when she was a 
girl and lived near Sudbury some gipsies were in the 
habit of tenting near her father's farm, and that 
she had often seen a bantam cock, that wore a gold 
ring in each wattle, standing on the back of a pony, 
which position it always occupied when travelling. 
These animals belonged to the gipsies, with whom 
they were great favourites, and who treated them 
with much care and kindness. 

The lady also informed us that her father some- 
times gave these gipsies a little straw, a few turnips 
and other things, and that he never had reason to 
complain of their incivility or dishonesty during the 
luany times they sojourned near his farm. 

Qirsy GIRL AT 1'RAYKtt. 



Religious notions of gipsies — Have no books, record*, or 
lexicons — Notion of tho Wallachians — Mother Stanley* 
idea of God and His mercy — Transmigration — The gipy 
who didn't like ceremony— Gipsies at a cathedral service 
and what they thought of it — The old gipsy whose clothe* 
were not a good fit — A gipsy lectures the author— Tb* 
gipsy chief and his child — Superstitions and dreams rf 
the gipsies — " The evil eye,*' &c. 

" Lulled in thv countless ehamlKjrs uf tht« brain. 
Our thoughts are linked by many a hidden chain; 
Awake but one, and lo, what myriads rise ! 
Each stamps its image as the other flies ! 
Each! as the various avenues of sense 
1 >c light or sorrow to the soul dispense* 
Brightens or fades ; yet all with magic art 
Control the latent fibres of the heart." Ro>fltf. 


One false impression existing respecting the gipsies 
f this country is that, in consequence of their want 
f proper education, their erratic mode of life, and 
umerous demoralizing associations, there can be no 
ntiment among them; that they have no disposition 
r capability to moralize, and have no power to 
onvey their ideas and meaning in suitable language, 
his may be true of some, but not of all of them. 
Many of them are naturally shrewd and intelligent ; 
nd the confident manner and fluency of speech with 
hich they are capable of addressing others are very 
Believing, however, that the common mode adopted 
by this people in expressing themselves, and their 
mutilation of several words in the English language, 
would be neither profitable nor interesting to the 
reader, we have chosen in the speech made by the 
gipsy, recorded further on in this chapter, respecting 
ourselves as a people, to convey his ideas and senti- 
ments in language considerably modified, without 
distorting his meaning or his intentions in what he 

Having referred to the social life, moral charac- 
teristics, and mental capacities of the gipsy nice, 
Ave shall now refer to the 


The Hindoos say, ** There are seventy-four and a 
half religions in the world, and that the half belongs 
to the gipsies/' The lack of religious ideas, and the 
want of a peculiar system of worship among the 
gipeieft, constitute remarkable features in the history 


of this strange people. This will appear more so 
when we consider that among all civilized nations, 
down to the lowest and most degraded of human 
beings, religions notions and ceremonies of some kind 
or other are entertained and observed. 

So far as the gipsies are concerned, whatever their 
spiritual ideas may be, they have no written recog- 
nized theology, no catechism, no dogmas of their own 
which they are bound to accept ; nor have they ever 
prescribed any particular mode of sacred service. If 
they are considered to be specially depraved on 
account of their neglect of the above duties, they 
cannot be charged with being idolaters. We have 
nowhere read or heard that gipsies have ever 
been known in any country, or age, to give to 
"idols made with men's hands" the worship and 
honour alone due to the Supreme Being. 

Some people may think the assertions just made 
constitute an argument against our theory of the 
Sudra extraction of gipsies, because it is said 
idolatry prevails to such an extent in India that 
idols are more in number than the human popula- 
tion. But as we have already hinted in the second 
chapter, however true this may be of most of 
the castes in that country, it does not apply to 
Sudras, who ignore all Brahminical authority, 
and are entirely regardless of the ceremonies of 
the Hindoo religion. 

This being the case, it could hardly be expected 
that they would trouble themselves about the posses- 
sion or worship of household idols ; therefore, the fore- 
fathers of the gipsies would not bring idols with them 
in their flight from India. Assuming this notion to 


e correct, we have one strong reason why they are 
ot worshippers of idols, and why no peculiar form 
f religious service has been observed and retained 
y them from generation to generation, in the same 
manner as many Hindostanee words in their dialect 
ave been transmitted by them. 

The late Rev. John West, a clergyman of the 
Jhurch of England, and a most devoted friend of 
bis wandering people, in his * Plea for the Education 
( the Children of the Gipsies/ says, "It has been 
emarked, if you ask them whence they come ? they 
:now not, From whom they sprang? they know 
ot; Are they Jews? they tell you they are not. 
Lre they Gentiles ? no/' It may be here observed 
rat although the quintessence of ignorance may be 
>und among gipsies, no question offends them more 
lan the last. 

44 If you ask them, Whom do they worship ? they 
re without God in the world. What is their religion? 
ley have none," 

In the many conversations we have had, both with 
ipsy men and women, on the subject of religion and 
le different denominations of Christians, we have 
let with some who have claimed to be members of 
10 Church of England- This they do only when 
;irticu!urly pressed on this point They probably 
ave reasons of policy for so doing quite satisfactory 
3 their own minds, and which they deem it prudent 
3 withhold from other people. It is, however, very 
Bmarkable that gipsies in Scotland identify them- 
slves, in some cases, with the Presbyterians, and in 
Vance and other continental countries with the 
toman Catholics, 


The Wallachians, who certainly do not entertain 
a very dignified notion of the religion of this race, say 

"the gipsies' church was built op bacon, 

and the dogs ate it up." But taking the foregoing 
statements into consideration, together with the per- 
secutions the gipsies have endured, and their unceas- 
ing migrations in all those countries where they 
are found, we cannot wonder that they should know 
so very little of their origin, and of the relation 
their forefathers bore to that country in which they 
lived hundreds of years ago. 

For generation after generation they have grown 
up without moral or mental culture ; and, as before 
observed, no taste having been fostered among them 
either for romantic literature or for the common 
rudiments of education, and being without books and 
proper teachers, they are of course in the mazes of 
ignorance, and entertain the most erroneous views of 
the character of the Divine Being. 

When passing, some years since, through Shore- 
ditch, we met an aged gipsy woman named Stanley, 
with whom we held a long conversation. Expressing 
a hope that, as she was advanced in years, she 
attended some place of worship, and did not forget 
her duty to her Maker, who we reminded her was 
"just as well as merciful," the woman warmly replied 
that " the good God was too great and too high to 
take notice of what a poor old gipsy woman could say 
or do, and she was quite sure He was too merciful to 
punish her for any crime she had ever committed." 

Like the North American Indians, many of the 


gipsies have a vague idea of the existence of a great 
and good spirit who presides over the destinies of the 
universe ; but without taking into consideration His 
omniscience and justice, they seek to exonerate them- 
selves from individual guilt by taking shelter behind 
His attributes of love and mercy. 

As may be supposed, the majority of the gipsy 
people have very confused notions of God and of a 
future state of existence. 

Some of them believe that when they die they 
perish altogether. One writer says that a certain 
gipsy when spoken to respecting the life hereafter, 
said, ** We have been wicked and miserable enough 
in this life, why should we live again ?" 

It is supposed by some people that gipsies, 
like the Hindoos, believe in the transmigration of 
souls, and that their souls, having passed through 
an infinite number of bodies both of men and 
l>east8, will at length attain sufficient purity to be 
admitted to a state of perfect rest and quietude. 

Woodcock says : " A gipsy lad was one day 
beating an animal, when his father stopped him, 
exclaiming, * Hurt not the animal, for within it is 
the soul of your own sister."* We may here state 
in reference to the belief of gipsies in the trans- 
migration of souls, that we never met with one who 
even gave us the slightest hint, directly or indirectly, 
that such a notion is entertained by them, or by 
any of their race in Ed gland, We should further 
imagine that if ever any gipsies in this country 
did entertain that idea, they must have been but few 
in number, and that they were amongst the earliest 
gipsy tribes who took up their abode amongst us, 


Little attention as the majority of gipsies pay to 
religious duties and obligations, there are some 
of them who clearly distinguish between mere 
ceremony and true religious worship. On a visit to 
a gipsy encampment, pitched near Stroud, we were 
informed that some of the women had been "persuaded 
to attend a Roman Catholic chapel close by. 

" How did you like the service ? " we enquired of 
one of them. 

" Not very much, sare? she said ; " there was too 
much show according to my notions ; we don't like 
that sort of thing in such sacred places, although 
it's true we don't often visit them." 

To this untutored gipsy woman the most simple 
forms of worship were evidently the most acceptable. 
So little, however, do the majority of gipsies know of 
the true feelings and motives which should influence 
those who attend religious services, that when they 
are induced to go to a place of worship, they often 
allow things of comparatively small importance to 
occupy their minds during the time, and of which 
the following story is one illustration. 


A few days before the service alluded to took 
place, we visited a number of gipsies who had been 
located some time in a large open space of ground 
within sound of the cathedral bells, which were just 
then joyously chiming their invitations to public 
worship. Their sound was suggestive, and induced 
us to enquire if any of the members of these 
nomadic families had, during their sojourn there, 


ever visited the cathedral ; not one of them had done 
so ; we then expressed a hope that they would go 
on the following Sabbath. Several promised they 
^vould if the weather happened to he favourable. 

Speaking particularly to an aged gipsy man on 
this subject, and saying it was his duty to attend 
some place of worship as an example to the younger 
ones, he tried to excuse himself by saying his 
clothes were bo shabby, and because our folks who 
-went to such places were all so grand and gaily 
dressed, and wouldn't rare to mix with gipsies, 
44 But" we asked, "if you can obtain a better coat 
and hat than those you now wear, will you attend 
the service with the other gipsies ? * 

"I will/' he said; 14 but where am I to get a 
better hat and coat ? I'm poor and can't afford to 
buy them." 

u Call to-morrow at our house," we said, f 1 and we 
will see what can be done/' 

The old man called forthwith ; we had already 
looked out a coat, pair of trousers, and a hat, though 
somewhat worn, yet fifty per cent better than his 
own. Although they were too large for him, as he 
was a small man for a gipsy, he said he could wear 
them, and, apparently well pleased, trudged off with 
them to his tent. 

Sunday came ; the sun shone out brightly, and 
his rays, which fell on the waters of the Severn, 
made them gleam like molten silver. It was about 
2 p.m. when we went to see if the gipsies intended 
to visit the cathedral for the three o'clock service ; 
they were astir and preparing to do so. The 
females were dressed in red cloaks and wore ribbons 


of the most glaring colours, especially some of the 
younger ones, and the men were clad in their best 
clothes, made up in most cases of velveteen, corduroy, 
coloured neckerchiefs, and the characteristic broad 
brimmed, dome crowned hat. The men and women 
all appeared in good humour, and the children were 
hilarious with the prospect of the novel treat before 

Among them was the old gipsy man, who was 
already dressed in the hat, coat, and trousers we had 
given him ; but some of the gipsies were laughing at 
the somewhat ludicrous appearance he presented in 
what they pleased to call his " new togs," which we 
certainly must say displayed no proofs of scientific 
measurement of the gipsy's body. The hat fell 
nearly on his eyebrows, and dropped too low behind ; 
his coat was too long in the sleeves, as well as in 
the skirt, and far too capacious to be called even a 
tolerably good fit; there was ample room in the 
trousers, which could boast of a very loose and easy 
suspension, as well as of superfluous length in both 
legs of them, and which he had turned up three or 
four inches at the bottom, just displaying above the 
uppers of his hob-nailed boots his blue worsted stock- 
ings. The old man, however, took their remarks 
in good humour, and simply said, u Why, if they 
don't fit first-rate, they are good in quality, and 
that's something in their favour at any rate." The 
gipsies then started and reached the cathedral some 
few minutes before the service began. We hardly 
need say that, dressed as we have described them, they 
presented a very picturesque appearance in the vast 
congregation whose curiosity and interest the gipsies 


had considerably excited. Whatever the ideas of the 
latter might have been, or however fugitive their 
thoughts were as they sat in that sacred temple, they 
behaved with great decorum, were very quiet, and 
some of them seemed to be, shall we say, even 

On the following day we again visited the same 
gipsies, in order to ascertain how the service had 
impressed them. To our enquiries we received 
some singular remarks, most of which showed that, 
many of the gipsies had not properly realized the 
object of the service they attended on the previous 

*0! what a fine building, and what grand 
windows they teas'' said one of the women. 

** And wasn*t the big organ beautiful ? " said 

**And so was the high pillars that reached from 
the floor to the roof to hold it up I suppose, 1 * said 
one of the boys. 

44 Yes," said a child not more than seven or eight 
years old, ** and so was all them lady's and gen'le- 
inan's faces as tvds stuck on the walls all round." 

" But the young ladies was the prettiest sight to 
my liking/' said one of the young gipsy men. 

u And to mine too/' chimed in his brother Horace. 

" Ah! but I liked the singing by the little girls 
the best ; it was so sweet it was/' said a vivacious 
girl about eighteen years old. 

"What girls do you mean?" we enquired, sus- 
pecting she was mistaken in the sex of the singers* 

"0!" she replied, "the girls at the far end, you 
know ; there iras lots of em, and they wore long 


white bedgowns, and they all looked very clean and 
nice they did." 

Of course this simple girl was referring to the 
chorister boys, who wore their white surplices. We 
have pleasure in stating that the old gipsy man 
in his comprehension of the importance of the 
service, and his appreciation of religious worship, 
was an exception to the other gipsies, whose atten- 
tion had been principally devoted to more trivial 
matters, and to those external objects to which we 
have adverted. 


If gipsies have vague ideas of the virtues and 
practices which constitute the Christian character, 
they are nevertheless observant, and frequently justify 
their own neglect of our religion by what they con- 
sider to be the inconsistent deportment of some of its 
professors. Their notions on the conduct referred to, 
and which are embodied in what is to follow, have 
been gathered by us in conversations we have held 
with some of the most intelligent 1 members of the 
gipsy race. 

On one occasion, when speaking to a gipsy on 
the excellence of the Christian religion, and of the 
necessity of possessing it in order to be thoroughly 
honest, happy, virtuous, and good in this life, and to 
secure a happy hereafter existence, another member 
of the iribe who had heard our remarks stepped 
forward and said : 

" Honest, did you say, sir ? Honest, indeed," he 
continued ; " look at the deception some of your people 


practice in trade, And then you talk about virtue 
and happiness and such like things 5 yet while I may 
admit they may be found, I would ask you to look 
at the drunkenness of thousands of your men and 
women, to listen to the bad language some of them 
utter in your streets, and to observe that many of 
them spend the Sabbath, as you know, in pleasure 
they seek by boat, by road, or rail, while in some 
cases they work out the hearts of their animals and 
fellow-men when they should be at rest. I don't 
mean to say that all your people are guilty of these 
things; there are those, I know, that are not; but, 
as I before said, multitudes are guilty of them, and 
so depraved that they disgrace your civilization, 
education, and religious services of which you so 
vainly boast." 

It was in vain to try to convince him that his 
reasoning was false, and his deductions wrong ; 
and that he should distinguish between the mere 
nominal profession of Christianity and the possession 
of its ennobling influences. The gipsy seemed to have 
an idea that the deception and immorality of which 
he complained arose entirely from a lack of power 
in Christianity and its forms of worship, and that 
we invest them with importance they do not 

Need we wonder then that gipsies, having such 
notions as these, and knowing, as they do, that they 
are an outlawed race, should turn away from our 
busy and fashionable towns, have little or no faith 
in our religious professions^ disbelieve our honesty, 
object to our principles, and despise our public 
services, or at least neglect them ; and that turn- 



ing to their own wild freedom and more unsophisti- 
cated way of life, should boastingly say, as one of the 
Lees did to us, "We fall back upon Nature, and 
through her worship the Maker. We are contented 
with the light of the sun, the moon and the stars ; 
we love the woods, the trees, the fields, and flowers, 
and to listen to Nature's own music in the songs of 
birds, in the murmuring stream, and in the breeze 
which softly sighs through the hedgerows and groves. 
These are the things we admire, and for which we 
are thankful. Nature is our altar, and even in the 
green lanes, on the mountain side, in the forest recess, 
or anywhere else, we can raise our shrines of devo- 
tion, at which we can breathe our heartfelt gratitude 
to the Great Spirit for the favours He gives us." 

The views which many of the most intelligent 
gipsies take of the practices of multitudes of our own 
people, and the notions they entertain that our forms 
and ceremonies of worship are needless, and that the 
love and admiration of Nature are all that are neces- 
sary to honour the Creator, no doubt constitute very 
great difficulties in the religious reformation of the 
gipsy race. 

As a relief to the picture we have just drawn, it is 
gratifying to state that some of the members of these 
nomadic tribes teach their children the Lord's Prayer, 
and to treat those who have acted as sponsors at 
their baptisms with great and superstitious respect. 


It was on a calm fine evening in the decline of 
summer, just as the sun was disappearing below the 


horizon, and all around seemed hushed into silence, 
save that now and then it was broken by the music 
of song-birds, that we were in conversation with a 
Btalwart gipsy man, whose tent was close by, and 
within which were his wife and six children, whose 
hair and eyes were as glossy, bright and beautiful 
as ever characterized the purest offspring of the 
gipsy race, as the father claimed a direct descent 
from one of the first families that came into England, 
and the mother as belonging to the Lees and the 
Chilcotts, Nimble as a fawn, and light as a feather, 
one of the girls, not more than four years old, 
bounded across the green sward towards the chief 
" Good-night, dadi; I'm going to bed," said the 
little one. The father held her up, and imprinting 
a kiss on her sunburnt cheek, said, " Good-night, my 
ehiwt % God bless you; mind and say your prayers 
before you go to bed." The child was soon within 
the opening of the tent, where the gipsy mother was 
preparing the other children for their night's rest 
and sleep. The child before mentioned knelt by the 
side of her mother, and, with her little hands clasped, 
said her prayers distinctly and reverently, 

As we looked at the child thus engaged, wo could 
not help saying that, in the midst of all the darkness 
and ignorance of these wandering tribes, here was 
at least one encouraging ray of hope and of light 
Who will dare to say, that the simple, humble 
prayer offered by that gipsy child under a fragile 
tent pitched in a solitary spot, was not heard by 
God and registered in heaven ? 



Gipsy people allow superstition to have great 
power over their minds and movements. If, on 
leaving a camping spot early in the morning for 
some other locality, the gipsies should first meet 
a donkey, it would be regarded by them as an 
omen of ill-luck ; but if they should first meet a 
woman who squinted, they would be almost scared 
out of their wits, would in all probability return to 
the same camping-place, unpack their carts and 
donkeys, and there remain some time before resum- 
ing their journey. 

Meeting a funeral is considered by them to be an 
indication of misfortune. The howling of dogs, the 
flying of certain birds across their path, they believe 
to be precursors of evil. 

They attach great significance to dreams of every 
kind, which they believe portend good or evil, ac- 
cording to their nature. Dreams of blood, snakes, 
thunder and lightning, generally produce great fear 
among the gipsies, because their old women usually 
interpret them as indicating the apprehension, im- 
prisonment, and even the death of one or more of 
their members. They believe also in the "Evil 
Eye," in the knowledge and powers of witches and 
wizards, in incantations, and in the long list of 
foolish superstitions believed in by multitudes of 
other people besides themselves. 

So great is the want of education and true reli- 
" gion among this people, such are the distorted views 
they have of their Maker and of the future, and 


so numerous are their prejudices, and incoherent 
notions of many things, that their condition is, in 
some respects, a truly deplorable one. 

A story is told of Charley Graham, a noted gipsy, 
who was sentenced to be hanged in Perth for horse- 
stealing, sending, on the morning of his execution, 
a message to one of the magistrates of that town, 
to the effect that he wanted a razor to take off his 
beard, desiring the person to tell him that unless his 
beard was shaven he could not appear before either 
God or man. 

Although some gipsies on the approach of death 
show great fear and distress of mind, others among 
them have been callous and unconcerned. Some 
years since old gipsy Buckland, who was so desperate 
a character that even his own people were compelled 
to discard him, was sentenced to be hanged for 
murdering a cottage woman living near Sutton 
Benger, in Wiltshire. Just before his execution, 
having asked to have his shoe strings untied, he 
threw his shoes into the crowd, and called out in a 
bold, defiant manner, " / beant afeard" In a few 
moments he ceased to exist. 




Chiromancy — Astrology — -Disappointed lovers — Plans adopted 
by gipsies iu fortune-telling — The two female servants and 
the frying-pan — Gipsy succor in fortune-telling — The 
original Peggy — A eruditions baker — Bori Hokani, or the 
14 great trick — An old bachelor and gipsy girl — A deep 
laid scheme — The Quaker and the gipsy — The Lissou Grove 
fortune-teller — Telling the fortune of a fortune-teller — A 
fortune told in Greenwich Park to a very gullible young 
man — The secret of gipsy Rucceflsin forlune-telling — Gipsies 
good readers of human character — Rivals in fortune- telling— 
The surgeon's: widow — M Zenrtovesta M — The old woman who 
lived in the mews — Copy of a remarkable handbill about 
casting nativities, Ac, 

" Lo! by the wayside 'neath umbrageous shadows 
Of lofty elms, which dim the flaming sun, 
The gipsy mother, gazing o'er the meadows, 
Through which so many silver streamlets run, 


Sits tm a verdant bank, whilo round her flowing 
Are wild flowers, bright as her bright face, and glowing. 

And aft the village maidens smiling pass, 

With an arch whisper, and a side- long look, 
She promises from destiny's dark glass 

To read their fates when in some quiet nook ; 
But to evoke the spirit bland and calm, 
Silver must cross the wily gipsy's palm." 

"To peer into the future, and to ascertain the result 
of events not yet accomplished , is one of those 
pursuits which offer peculiar attractions to the 
credulous and curious. The curious lend believing 
ears to the idle stories of the wizard and the spirit- 
monger, and sacrifice reason on the altar of credulity. 
In all ages men have been found cunning enough to 
deceive their fellows by imaginary glimpses of the 
unseen world, by charms and amulets, and ghost- 
raisings, and exorcisms, and auguries of good and 
evil fortune. 

" Superstition possesses a potent influence on the 

human mind Whether it be the charms and 

spells of ancient times, the auguries of happiness or 
misery, is it not of the same character ? — an appeal 
to superstition, an ignoring of the reasoning faculties. 
Fortune-telling, ghost-raising and auguries, are but 
relics of old heathenism, that might naturally enough 
have been expected to affect the human intellect 
when the world was young, and society plunged in 
barbarism, but which is grossly inconsistent and 
out of place in the broad light of the nineteenth 



and astrology, as well as by cards, is a practice 
which has long prevailed among the gipsies of this 
and other countries, and one which is likely to be 
the last they will abandon, owing to its being to 
them a very fruitful source of gain. The almost 
universal adoption of the practice by gipsy women 
arises not only from the reason just assigned, but 
from their knowledge of the anxiety with reference 
to future events, which pervades almost every mind. 

Clinging with almost inflexible tenacity to the 
hope of brighter days, the poor sometimes seek 
relief from the distress of existing circumstances by 
the verbal assurance of some sybil, whose prognosti- 
cations are believed to be the offspring of super- 
natural agency, and in which they expect to find 
a pleasing confirmation of their most anxious 

On the other hand, the possession of wealth, 
engendering selfishness and a perpetual craving for 
the accumulation of still greater riches and worldly 
influence, often prompts persons in the higher 
circles of life to hold secret interviews with gipsy 
fortune-tellers, to lavish gifts upon them, and to 
have recourse to base and shameful intriguing, 
simply to buy a guarantee that coming years hold 
for them a store of unbounded and inexhaustible 

Sighing and disappointed lovers, who meet with 
no favourable answer to their hopes, and who fancy 
they are doomed to banishment from the object 


of their affections, imagine that, in the revelation 
of what awaits them, either a last fatal blow may 
be given to a lingering hope, or that they will find 
a panacea for the anguish which destroys their 
happiness or mars their peace of mind. 

There may be various operating causes which 
influence many people to seek satisfaction in the 
practice of fortune-telling ; still the conduct of such 
persons implies want of confidence in Gk>d*s wisdom 
and over-ruling power, and betrays a needless and 
impatient curiosity respecting their future destinies, 

Gipsies are keen discriminators of human character, 
and possess a clearness of perception of which few 
people can boast Some of their women seem 
intuitively to understand the person with whom they 
have to deal, and are always crafty enough to 
adapt their speeches to the circumstances, anticipa- 
tions, character and dispositions of their employers. 

Young people have often paid dearly for their 
belief in this pretended power of the gipsies — to 
foretell future events, subsequently discovering that 
they have been cleverly deceived, altogether out- 
witted, and fleeced of their money, 

The following is a plan often adopted by gipsy 
fortune-tellers to delude the young. In small towns 
and villages more especially, gipsy women introduce 
themselves to both rich and poor by offering wares 
for sale. They make a practice of enquiring if 
any event of importance has occurred, or is about 
to take place. Probably a marriage ceremony is 
(shortly to be performed between Miss A, and young 
Mr. B. If so, the gipsy's first thought is to gain all 
the information she can relating to the young couple, 


and then to gain an interview with either of them. 
When this is obtained, a full description of the personal 
appearance of the bridegroom or the bride is given. 
Every word uttered by the gipsy, being mainly 
truthful, the idea that she speaks with authority 
and prophetic wisdom becomes impressed upon the 
mind of her hearer. It may be the gipsy has given 
promises of bright and happy seasons to the young 
couple, and intimated that their life will be, to use 
a figure of speech, strewn with beautiful and fragrant 
flowers, and that no intruding gloom will darken 
their future prospects. Working in this way on the 
emotions and imaginations of such inexperienced 
people, fortune-tellers have often succeeded in obtain- 
ing considerable sums of money from them. Need 
we wonder that a susceptible coy young maiden, or 
a modest but ambitious young man, should be carried 
away with such enunciations as those uttered by the 
gipsy, or that they should so readily believe her. 
Little do such credulous people suppose that what a 
gipsy may have told them was not through her own 
* supernatural gift, but had been received by her from 
some gossiping neighbour probably not more than 
a hundred yards off". 

Mr. Crabb, author of the ' Gipsies' Advocate,' in 
referring to the practice of fortune-telling by the 
gipsies, says: " B They generally prophecy good. 
Knowing the readiest way to deceive, to a young 
lady they describe a handsome gentleman, as one she 
may be assured will be her husband. To a youth 
they promise a pretty lady with a large fortune. 
These artful pretenders to a knowledge of future 
events generally discover who are in possession of 


property ; and if they be superstitious and covetous 
they contrive to persuade them there is a lucky stone 
in their house, and that, if they will entrust to them 
all or &2>art of their money, they will double and treble 
it Trades pen have been known to sell their goods 
at a considerable loss, hoping- to have the money 
increased to them h% the supposed power of these 
wicked females. 

11 If the fortune-teller cannot succeed in obtaining 
a large sum at first from such credulous dupes, she 
commences with a small one ; and then pretending 
it to be too insignificant for the planets to work upon, 
she soon gets it doubled; and when she has succeeded 
in getting all she can, she decamps with her booty ? 
baring her mortified victims to the just punishment 
of disappointment and shame, who are afraid of making 
their losses known lest they should be exposed to the 
ridicule they deserve," 

The same author informs us that on one occasion 
"two female servants went into the camp of some 
gipsies near Southampton to have their fortunes 
told by one, a great professor of the art. On observ- 
ing them to appear like persons in service, she said to 
a companion, '/ shall not get my hooks or cards for them, 
tltey are but servants / And calling for a frying-pan , 
she ordered them to fill it with water, and hold their 
faces over it. This being done, she proceeded to 
flatter and to promise them great things, for which 
she was paid one shilling and sixpence each. This 
is called the frying-pan fortune*" 

The means and materials used by gipsies in fortune- 
telling consist of reading the lines on the palm of the 
hand, the use of a pack of cards, a crystal bull, 


sometimes a bundle of sticks or twigs, and a book of 
incantations and receipts.. 

In the practice of fortune-telling by the above 
means gipsy girls are instructed by those old women 
of their tribes who are considered to be the most 
clever in the art. The curved line running from 
between the thumb and fore-finger down to the 
wrist, another line running obliquely through the 
middle of the palm, and another at nearly right 
angles from the base of the little finger, are considered 
by the gipsies to be the line of life, of health, and of 
fortune ; if each line is deep and well defined, it is 
an indication of good ; but if not so, and especially 
if there are many small lines crossing the middle 
one, then it is regarded as a token of ill-health, 
short life, and of adversity, 


The money made by gipsies in fortune-telling is, 
as a rule, nearly all profit. Although the practice 
has sometimes brought them into great trouble and 
expense, yet in the majority of cases they have 
escaped detection by the law, and have pursued their 
calling without molestation. 

Some years since several notorious fortune-tellers 
carried on a successful trade in the Rosherville and 
Springhead Gardens, near Gravesend in Kent. In 
the former place Avis Lee had practised her art 
more than a quarter of a century. In the latter 
were to be seen two sylvan tents, on one of which 
were the words, " Here is the old original Peggy ; 
no connexion with the other ;" whilst the other held 


out to tbe credulous this bait, "The Norwood 

On one occasion a iady named Brabazon visited 
old Peggy with the laudable intention of showing 
the gipsy that her mode of obtaining a living was 
neither honest nor lawful, and of trying to prevail 
upon her to abandon such a wicked course of life* 
In conversation with Peggy, Miss Brabazon ascer- 
tained that when the gipsy first went to Rosherville 
she used to tell fortunes at two pence a head, and 
that she took five or six shillings a day. In a little 
time she began to make a good sum by telling 
fortunes, but it appears was never so successful as 
another gipsy with whom she had stopped a long 
time, and who had made seven pounds a week. 
Nevertheless j Peggy admitted that she made four 
pounds a week, paid two shillings and sixpence a 
day for her standing there, and three shillings for a 
cab morning and evening to take her backwards 
and forwards, in consequence of having hurt her foot. 


Some time ago a young tradesman, living in a 
small town in Gloucestershire, had accumulated the 
sum of eighteen pounds by his business as a baker, 
and was foolish enough to make the fact known to 
other people. The report reached the ears of two 
gipsy women who were in the neighbourhood at 
the time ; so they at once called at bis shop, and 
worked upon his credulity by promising to double bis 
money for him if he would allow them to have it 
three or four days. 


They induced him to give it up, on the under- 
standing that he was to meet them at a certain time 
in an appointed place, for the two-fold purpose of 
receiving the promised sum and to reward them for 
an act of such proffered generosity. The hour of 
meeting arrived, and the young man went to the 
try sting spot, but the women were not there, neither 
did they come, although he waited a long time in 
full expectation of their arrival. They were of 
coarse many miles distant at the time, and their 
silly victim was left to reflect upon the loss he had 
sustained through his own stupidity, and the 
women's ingenuity in so cleverly deceiving him. 
He was so humiliated by the result of .his credulity 
that he left the town, and we were told by a 
neighbour that he died soon after. • 

"bom hokani," or great trick. 

Many persons have been induced to place money 
in the hands of gipsy fortune-tellers, who have 
pretended that by being allowed to tie it up in a 
piece of paper, to repeat certain words over it, and 
then put it in the Bible, to be hidden in some secret 
place for a certain number of days, they would be 
able by their art in conjuration to double the sum, or, 
using their own words, " to produce two canaries 
(sovereigns) for one." This scheme embodies what 
is denominated by the gipsies the "Bori Hokani," 
or " Great Trick," a definition of which is given by 
a London detective police officer, as follows : 

" This is the way they works it. They'll get hold of 
some old farmer's wife, sir, in an out-of-the-way place, 


Lhey knows there's money kept in the house, 
for there's many of them farmers as wouldn't trust 
the Bank of England with a sovereign ; and when 
the husband's out of the way they sticks into the 
poor ignorant woman as how they can make money 
breed money, all along of a charm they've got. So 
they indooces the ignorant woman to let 'em put up 
her husband's sovereigns for her, which they does 
safe enough in a parcel, and gives it her, and makes 
her lock it up in a drawer, or chest, or such like, and 
Bays some gibberish, and acts some games over it, 
and tells her that in such and such a time if she 
opens the parcel she'll find two sovereigns for one. 

*' But don't you see, sir, they had another parcel 
with em, made up just like the one they've packed 
the sovereigns in (and that's why they always puts it 
up themselves) filled with lead dumps^ or such like, 
and by a fakement, I beg your pardon, sir, a slight* 
of-hand like, you know, they change the packet of 
sovereigns for the packet of lead fardens, in giving 
on em to put into the box, and they walks their 
chalks with the tin ; and when the old lady opens 
her box and unfastens the parcel to look for her 
young canaries, you know, sir, she finds the blessed 
dumps, and precious aggravated she is, in course 
and her husband too, for he is safe to find it out, 
and that's the 4 Bori Hokani/ sir." 


The following account is another illustration of 
the credulity and foolishness of people allowing 
themselves to be duped out of their money by a plan 


so manifestly absurd, and even contrary to th» 
smallest amount of perception and common sense. 

Not long since an avaricious old bachelor, residing, fsig 
in Lancashire, deposited £150 in the Preston Banteff jok 
and wishing to increase the sum, and to add to hw m~M\\\ 
domestic comforts, he had for some time beer^^^^ei 
looking out for a wife with a good fortune, to enabMT<=Jble 
him to realize his two-fold desire. A gipsy gir i^irj 
having heard of his wishes, at once found him OQcmj^ 
and thus accosted him : 

" May I tell you your fortune, sir ? " 

44 No/' said the bachelor, "I dont believe " in 

" Ah ! " said the subtle gipsy, " you are unmarrier=3d, 
are you not ? " 

"Yes," said he; "lam" 

"I know," continued the girl, "a lady worr^th 
money, land, and oxen, and she would be proud to 
become your wife." 

"Indeed," he asked in interest, "who is she? fcr^ell 

"I cannot tell you now, you must wait awhil^^» 
replied the gipsy. 

" But why wait ? " said the man ; " what do y^~~~ ou 
want ? what can I do ? " 

To excite his curiosity still more, the girl paused, 88 
if invoking the aid of some unseen agency, and th— ^ n 
said, " You must meet me here to-morrow (nami^^£ 
the hour), and bring with ydu ninety sovereign m 
wrapped in a piece of brown paper, which I mu^' 
see before I can make any revelation, or give y^ u 
the lady's name." The two then parted. 

On the following morning the man obtained fro/n 


tie bank the money required, and then at the time 

specified took it to the appointed place. 

The gipsy was there, and proceeded to tell her 

well-fabricated story to this aspirant for matrimonial 

honours, at the same time eyeing very intently the 

parcel of sovereigns made up as she had directed, 

and which he held in his hand. 

This interview terminated with an assignation for 

the two following days, which was kept, the man 

bringing the parcel as before. 

On the last day, the wily gipsy said she "must 

Jeel the money* or the charm would not be effectual" 
The bachelor gave her the parcel, being assured by 
the girl that she would return it to him immediately. 
She then described in glowing terms the domestic 
bliss in store for him, and spoke so highly of the 
personal attractions and moral excellencies of the 
lady whom she had pretended was anxious to become 
his spouse, and so lauded her fine cattle, well 
cultivated land, and large fortune, that he became 
quite intoxicated with delight, and nearly lost all 
control over his organs of vision. 

As the gipsy proceeded with her flattering 
prophecies of future good luck, his eyes involuntarily 
wandered far over the landscape, as if at once to 
realize the benefits in store for him. 

During the few moments the man's attention was 
thus abstracted, the gipsy very adroitly transferred 
the parcel of gold to her own pocket, and then, 
touching the dupe on the arm, handed to him 
another parcel similar in appearance, saying, M To- 
morrow you must meet me here and reward me for 
my trouble. I shall then give you the lady s name 

x 2 


and her place of residence, so that nothing nee* 
hinder you from marrying her, and having what Z 
have promised ; hut on no account must you ope: 
the parcel I have just returned to you unti 
the expiration of three days, otherwise the char] 
will be entirely broken." 

"Of course Til meet you," said the silly fellow 
"with the greatest pleasure, and I'll not open th 
parcel neither" 

On the following day he went to the spot 
arranged, but there was no gipsy ; and several tim^s* 
did he repeat his visit, but to no purpose. A 
length, concluding that some unavoidable circun 
stance had transpired to prevent the gipsy froc*^ 
keeping her appointment^ he resolved to return hir-^3* 8 
money to the bank. To the bank accordingly YtzM^ 
went, but when the clerk opened the parcel, tfctf-^ 16 
would-be depositor was horror-stricken at beholdin*^*^ 
ninety round pieces of lead, instead of ninety sovereigns^** 1 ® 

The gipsy was by this time far away, and h^*^ 1 
victim so intensely mortified by his own folly, ths^*=*a* 
he was ashamed to expose himself to public ridicu7-^-^ 
by taking steps for the prosecution of the girl wbz^fo 
had so cleverly duped him. 

The reader will no doubt understand that tfc=?£ 
gipsy's reason for requiring so long an interv*^ 
between the first and last interview with the victizo 
was that she might have sufficient time to make up 
the counterfeit parcel, so as not to run any risk of 
failure in the deception she wished to practice. 

Wee were once informed by a gipsy woman that an 
aunt of hers, belonging, we believe, to the Stanley 
family was one of the most successful fortune-tellers 



connected with their tribes. She has been known to 
return to her tent at nightfall with Beveral pounds 
obtained during the day by fortune-telling; if she 
lined less than two pounds she was always a little 
lissatisfied with her non-success, but if she returned 
home with only several shillings or one sovereign 
this gipsy was generally out of temper during the 
evening, and would grumble very severely at the 
fates for the ill-luck she had met with. 

The following anecdote, given to us by a London 
minister, will show the folly of encouraging the 
practice of fortune-telling, A member of the society 
of Friends, living in Suffolk, left home one morning, 
but soon unexpectedly returned. To his surprise a 
young gipsy girl was in the kitchen with his two 
servants, both of whom she was amusing by fortune- 
telling. The gipsy apologized. 

*' Oh," said the gentleman, " art thou able to tell 
what is in the future ? M 

u O, yes," was the giiTs brief but timid reply. 
" Then when thou hast done with my servants, 1 ' said 
the master, "come into my sitting-room, I want to 
speak to thee/ 1 

Probably thinking that he also wished to have his 
fortune told, and that his purse was w r orth more than 
those of the girls, the gipsy obeyed, went to his room, 
and took a seat. 

Repeating his question as to her prophetic abilities, 
the gentleman reached his hand to a horsewhip, and 
hen,standing over the girl in a menacing attitude, said 



in a stern voice, " Now I know thou art an impoetc^^ 3 
for hadst thou known anything of the future, thc^-^ 
wouldst have known that when I told thee to conf* 
up into my sitting-room it was my intention to hoiiK-m 
whip thee. Begone, or I'll give thee in charge * 
the police," and he flourished the whip over thM3 
affrighted girl, who was glad to decamp with s^m/j 
haste, without having fathomed the depth or test^^k/ 
the value of the worthy man's purse. 


On one occasion we were directed to a house in 
Lisson Grove, in which a notorious gipsy had carried 
on the practice of fortune-telling for many years. 
Knocking at her door, which was locked, a voice from 
within enquired, a Who's there ? " "A friend," we 
said. She then unlocked the door, and allowed us to 
enter her room, which was clean and neat, and formed 
at once a living and sleeping place, and a sanctum 
for prophetic utterances. A crystal ball was sus- 
pended from the ceiling, a pack of cards, was lying 
in a corner, and there were other appliances of her 
art. We found this gipsy to be both intelligent and 
of pleasing manner. Although we urged her to 
give up her wicked and dishonest practice of fortune- 
telling, we had little hope she would do so, as we 
learned she was reaping a rich harvest by it from 
persons belonging to nearly all classes of society. 

We have already remarked that gipsies have a 
confident manner in expressing themselves, even to 
those who are far above them in rank. From a re- 
view of the 6 Word Book of the Romany' we learn 


that George IY., when Regent, had his fortune told 
by the gipsy Britannia on Newmarket Heath, who 
gave the bewitching caumli u foive guineas and 
a kiss," so that even royalty does not deter a gipsy 
from pursuing her calling when there is the least 
probability of making profit thereby. 


Although the woman referred to in the following 
story was not a gipsy in the sense in which the word 
is generally understood the circumstances connected 
with her examination will show the absurdity of 
placing any confidence in the assumed prophetic 
power of such wicked pretenders. It is stated that 
44 At the Bradford West Riding Court, before Joshua 
Pollard, Esq., an elderly woman named Dixon was 
lately charged with having followed the vocation of 

** Ann Stansfield, a young girl, said she had con- 
sulted her twice, and given her sixpence the first time 
and five shillings the second. The prisoner shuffled 
the cards mysteriously, made her put her hand on a 
crystal ball larger than an egg, and the prisoner put 
her own hand uppermost, repeated some gibberish, 
and then made a low bow or curtsey, and the work 
was finished. 

11 The cards, the crystal ball, a small bundle of 
sticks used as charms, and a book filled with incanta- 
tions and receipts of a rather singular description 
were produced. 

1 Can you tell your own fortune ? * enquired Mr. 


" The woman said she could not. 

" 4 Very well then, he continued, i I will tell it for 
you, and commit you for three months to the house 
of correction at Wakefield.* There is no doubt the 
old woman considered that was fortune-telling a 
great deal too practical to be at all pleasant." 


On one occasion when about to enter a public room 
in London to give a lecture on gipsies, we were ac- 
costed by a respectably attired man, who in general 
terms referred to gipsy life, but particularly to what 
he considered to be the supernatural power gipsy 
women have in revealing future events. 

" They are a marvellous people," said he, " and a* e 
no doubt endowed, really and truly, with the gi^ 
of prophecy, which enables them to tell what is t/> 
be the future lot of those who consult them, 
course," he continued, " you believe so too, sir, ^ 
should imagine." 

" Oh, yes," we replied ; " they can tell fortunes, i^ 10 
doubt, but only in the same way that you, myself, ^ T 
anybody else might do by using the same means th ^ 
gipsies use. Other people who are observant, ar^ 1 ^ 
have had experience of life and of human naturT --6 * 
may, as well as gipsy fortune-tellers, hit upon ma^^y 
things that may really come to pass in the future lrr^ e 
of others." 

44 Sir," said the man, half offended, "I'm aste^ D " 
ished to hear you make such assertions, by whL <k 
you not only libel the gipsies, but assume to yomJir- 
self a power and gift that do not belong to you. J 


low that gipsies can reveal the future, for I had my 
rtune told once by one of their girls in Greenwich 

I Park more than twenty years ago/' 
"That is a long time since," we said. "If you 
have not forgotten what the gipsy told you, I should 
like to hear it. It may be that your story will induce 
me to alter my opinion about the fortune-telling gifts 
of this people. I wish to accord, even to gipsies, 
that which they have a right to claim," 

44 Well, sir," began the man, "then I'll tell you 
that twenty years since I was single, but one day 
I happened to see a young woman whose appearance 
and manner made such an impression on my heart 
— in fact it was a case of love at first sight — that 
I resolved to make further acquaintance with her, 
to let her know my state of feeling, and to ask 
her to become my wife. Just about that time I was 
one day in Greenwich Park, when a gipsy woman 
wanted to tell me my fortune, I consented for her 
to do so, and gave her a piece of silver, which, you 
know, they always expect before they begin," 

" Oh, yes," we said ; u that is, I believe, their 
custom. They know and often say, * A chirriclo adri 
hU vast is worth duj adri the bar* (that is, 4 a bird in 
the hand is worth two in the bush) 1 ; and they like 
to be sure of the money in all their business trans- 
actions, especially in the practice of fortune-telling. 
But tell me what the gipsy said to you/' 

*' She said," continued the man, * I should get 
married to a young woman who was good looking, 
and very fond of me, and who would make me an 
eel lent wife. But this was to me the most remark- 
le and strange of all, that the description she gave 


of the hair, eyes, nose, mouth, and complexion of my 
future wife answered to that of the young woman I 
had seen, and of whom I spoke just now." 

44 And did you marry the person the gipsy described 
to you ?" we enquired. 

" I am happy to say I did," he answered ; 44 and so 
you see, sir, the gipsy was right to begin with." 

44 But what more did she tell you ? " we asked. 

44 A dozen things besides," he replied ; 44 she told 
me I should prosper in business, and become a man 
of some importance, for instance, a town council 
man ; and that my children should marry well ; but 
that I should also have a good deal of trouble." 

44 You married, it appears," we remarked ; 44 have 
you any children, and have they, or are they likely 
to marry well ? " we asked. 

44 Well now," said the man hesitatingly, 44 on that 
one point the gipsy, I must admit, was not quite clear. 
We never had but one child, and that died in its 
infancy ; and I regret to say I lost my wife about six 
years since. But as to my rising in the world, I think 
I am in a fair way for that. I have been messenger 
of the parish vestry during the last twelve years, and 
I can assure you I've seen in my time as many ups 
and downs as anybody my own age ; so that you 
see these gipsies must know more of the future than 
other folks do, or how could that girl have pictured 
my future life so truly ? " 

44 1 fail to see that such is the case," we said ; 44 and 
that your argument in favour of gipsy fortune- 
telling is a very weak one. You married, you say ; 
so do nearly all young men. You have had trouble ; 
who, I would ask, is without it ? I am astonished 


at your credulity; because of the dozen different 
things the gipsy girl told you not more than two 
of them have come to pass ; in fact, it would have 
been a marvellous thing if they had not done bo, for 
they are the very commonest of life's occurrences, 
Without exonerating the gipsy from guilt in ob- 
taining your money under, I may say, false pre- 
tences, she certainly reaped the greatest benefit 
from the interview. Gipsies laugh at people who so 
easily part with their money to pay for a practice 
founded on fraud and falsehood/* 

Here the conversation ended, We delivered our 
lecture, to which the man spoken of listened with 
much attention j particularly to our animadversions 
on gipsy prognostications. It is evident, however, 
that the credulity of this man was a disgrace to 
advancing civilization, and that to suppose even 
gipsies can reveal the secrets of the hidden, dark, 
unknown, is not only wicked, but foolish to the 
highest degree, 


The minds of many persons are mystified by the fact 
that in fortune-telling the gipsies often tell the truth 
in a way which, to them, is altogether unaccount- 
able, and therefore conclude that this people must 
possess the gift or power of drawing aside the veil 
from the face of futurity. Those favourable to this 
belief will often ask, " If gipsy women do not possess 
the gift of prophecy, how is it that their prognostica- 
tions so often come to pass?" The answer is T that 
although in some respects the history and ex- 


periences of a number of individuals are dissimilar, 
yet in others there is a striking incidental re- 
semblance. Some men rise in worldly position, 
and reach the highest point of prosperity; while 
others have to grapple with numerous difficulties 
and merciless poverty. Many persons realize their 
most sanguine expectations ; others are crushed with 
overwhelming disappointments. 

How few there are who end their lives amidst 
the scenes of the cheery days of youth? How 
many, as age creeps on, are torn by the ever up- 
heaving circumstances of human life from early as- 
sociations ? Perchance they cross the seas, and end 
their days in some distant clime. Who has not 
passed the ordeal of affliction and sorrow in a more 
or less intense degree ? Are not these and similar 
things the lot of the human family ? 

It is to these circumstances the gipsy's prog- 
nostications so frequently have reference, which 
will, in a great measure, account for the fortui- 
tous success of these crafty deluders. Gipsies 
will sometimes tell young women that their future 
husbands have black hair, bluish eyes, dark com- 
plexions, and are altogether very handsome men. 
Are there not many men who possess these charac- 
teristics? And does not nearly every girl think 
that he whom she loves is the best and handsomest 
man in the world ? Such, indeed, is generally the 
case. It is strange, however, that persons with ap- 
parently well-cultivated minds should in this matter 
be so readily and easily imposed upon. 

We emphatically state that the gipsies have never 
told the truth respecting the events of any person's 


future life by virtue of any supernatural gift. To 
the truth of this assertion reformed gipsies Lave not 
only borne testimony, but have admitted that fortuue- 
telling is founded on falsehood and cunning, and that 
those who practice it are often surprised that respect- 
able people should be foolish enough to believe them. 
Why any one should entertain a notion that a 
gipsy woman enveloped in a red cloak, living an 
erratic life, carrying with her a crystal ball, curious 
hieroglyphics, a small bundle of sticks, and a pack 
of dirty cards, should possess any supernatural 
power, or why that other wrinkled old woman, 
coarse and ignorant, living, it may be, with half- 
a-dozen cats in a dark, smoky garret, or dusty back 
room up some filthy court, should be able to draw 
aside the veil which hides the future from us, is really 
difficult to understand. Much as some people who 
have their fortunes told pretend they do it for the 
" mere fun of the thing," we may find in them a 
iurking belief or hope that there really may be 
something in the practice. Why should a few cards 
' — pieces of coloured paper only — form a book in 
Vrhich people may read their future destinies ? The 
idea and the practice are alike reprehensible. 

Many persons suppose that fortune-telling was in- 
troduced into Europe by the gipsies. This supposi- 
tion is wit bout foundation, When these wanderers 
came to England, the practice was being carried 
on to a great extent by others, who became so 
enraged with the gipsies for professing the same 



art, that they declared them deceivers and impostors. 
Even now every large town in England has its astro- 
logical and sleight-of-hand fortune-teller, who claims 
no relationship whatever with the gipsy people. 

We have been informed that the widow of a 
surgeon, residing in Clerkenwell, carried on the 
practice of fortune-telling with marvellous success 
for a number of years. Others, equally well known 
to different classes of society, have pursued this 
calling in the city of London, Westminster, South- 
wark, and Marylebone. Not many years since, a 
man, whose name was Smith, resided in a small 
street in Paddington, where he was visited not only 
by servants and working people in great numbers, 
but by persons in the higher grades of life, for the 
purpose of consulting him about their future life and 
fortune. This man assumed the name of "Zende- 
vesta," which means the sacred books of the Persians, 
and there is no doubt that this mysterious and 
high-sounding name helped to make dupes for this 
pretended and self-constituted seer, and to bring 
more money to his coffers. If this " Zendevesta 99 
really could not read the future, it appears he was 
a good reader of human character, and well under- 
stood the weaknesses of " poor humanity," as he had 
a kind of sliding scale of charges for his prophetic 
information, which he regulated according to what 
he thought might be the pecuniary capabilities and 
the anxious curiosity of the dupes who consulted 
him. The law, we believe, at last overtook him, 
and he had the misfortune to spend three months 
in prison for his nefarious practices. 

An old woman named P , who resided in a 


Mews not far from Dorset Square, was also a fortune- 
teller, but of a less pretending character than the one 
described. This woman was consulted chiefly by 
poor people and young servant maids, to whom she 
charged ninepence each, in return for which she 
would give a boot-lace, for the purpose of evading 
punishment by the law- 

The following is a copy of a handbill, which but 
a few years since was extensively circulated in 
London and its suburbs. It was headed 


** Your nativity calculated by this noble science from 
the planetary bodies; also all questions answered 
relative to the date of marriage, number of children, 
name of future wife or husband, whether old or 
young, dark, fair, rich, poor, handsome or plain; 
journeys and travels by land and sea ; absent friends ; 
speculations in business, or any undertaking ; lost or 
mislaid property, or property in dispute, or that has 
been left by persons in England, Australia, New 
Zealand, or any place abroad, within the last seventy 
years, and the most ready and easy way to recover 
audi property without expense until the property is 
recovered. Large sums of money have been re- 
covered by this information. 

" State date of birth and sex. No person can be 
personally consulted, and no letter taken in unless 

Three questions answered for 9 stamps. 
Six do do 14 do 

Or the whole information 18 do 


" Please enclose stamps and a stamped and directed 
envelope for the reply." 

Could a greater attempt at fraud and deception 
even be made by a gipsy than the one contained in 
the terms of the above handbill ? It is evident from 
the foregoing statements that the gipsies are not the 
only fortune-tellers in England, but we think are 
even less ingeniously wicked in the plans they adopt 
than those to whom references have been made* 
Neither are gipsies alone to blame for this practice. 
Remonstrate with them on this pursuit, and in nine 
cases out of ten they will exonerate themselves in a 
great measure from guilt, which they say should 
be laid upon those who encourage them. If they 
are morally guilty in pursuing such a deceptive 
course as that of fortune-telling, how much too are 
those to blame who, in the light of better principles 
and education, sanction a practice which common 
sense, the law, and the Scriptures everywhere 
condemn ? 

Great evils sometimes follow the encouragement 
of this sinful practice. Mr. Crabb states that " a 
servant girl, in Cheltenham, went to a fortune-teller, 
who predicted that she would be hanged. The 
prediction took such an effect upon her that she 
went raving mad, and was taken to a lunatic 

We have been told on reliable authority that a 
young person in Marylebone, refusing to give a 
certain sum of money to a fortune-teller, was told by 
her that on such a day in 6uch a month she (the 
young person) would die, and that nothing could 
save her. 




The condition of our gipsy claimants — Claim* uf the gipsies on 
philanthropic, moral, and Christian efforts, and on what they 
arc founded — A problom difficult of solution — Harsh measure* 
of no avail — Travelling habitations of gipsies — Kates and 
taxes — Compulsory education of gipsies — A few hints to 
School Board directors and agents— G ipsies won by kindness 
— Duty of niin inters — Plan adopted by Laplanders — Cora- 
mitteee of ladies and gentlemen, and what they might do — 
Twilight in gipsydom — A gipsy missionary— The Notting- 
dale gipsies — Thomas Hearno — A Kensal Green gipsy and 
his story — Epping Forest gipsies — Great changes for tho 
better — Encouragements to effort, Ac, 


" The seraph sympathy from heaven descends, 
And bright o'er earth his beaming forehead bends ; 
On man's oold heart celestial ardour flings, 
And showers affection from his sparkling wings ; 
Bolls o'er the world his mild benignant eye, 
Hears the lone murmur, drinks the whispered sigh, 

Uplifts the latch of pale misfortune's door, 
Opes the clenched hand of avarice to the poor ; 
Unbars the prison, liberates the slave, 
Sheds his soft sorrows o'er the untimely grave, 
Points with uplifted hands to realms above, 
And charms the world with universal love." 

Although the gipsies in England have, for nearly 
four centuries, lived in the midst of a civilized 
community, yet but few of them, in a mental, moral 
and spiritual sense, have been benefited on this 
account, or by the influences of our religion. Con- 
sidering that the spirit and principles of Christianity 
have, on those who adopt and receive them, such a 
refining and elevating tendency, it is surprising that 
any one should ever doubt their general adaptation 
to the condition and necessities of all the varied tribes 
of human beings, whatever may be the country or 
race to which they belong. Some, however, have 
done so ; and we may here state that many people 
have expressed their surprise at the interest we 
have individually taken in the welfare of the gipsies, 
and the time and labour we have bestowed upon a 
people considered to be not only depraved in habits, 
but vicious in disposition. 

It requires no very keen penetration to see that 
were the gipsies ten times worse than they really are, 
it would constitute an argument ten times stronger in 
favour of any effort that might be made to improve 
their condition. Although, as before stated, some of 




have been absorbed by the dense populations of our 
large towns, yet many still continue to travel from 
county to county, encamping where they dare, or 
pitching their tents in those secluded places where 
they are the least likely to be disturbed by our rural 
police- But this mode of life, in very many cases, is, 
we fear, not only contrary to social order, but a great 
hindrance to the education of gipsies and to a due 
exercise of moral and spiritual influences over them. 

This being the case, what is the voice of almost 
stentorian power emanating from the condition of 
these denizens of our woods and wilds, these erratic 
wayfarers, these children of the mountain and glen 
in city, tent, and van ? Is it not ** Come over and 
help us?" 

Judging from the rates of mortality in England 
generally, we may safely assert that since their 
introduction into this country upwards of 200,000 
gipsies have passed away, comparatively but little 
understood, un cared for, unsaved. 

Where lies the responsibility of this? Have our 
churches done their duty? Have our numerous 
religious organizations brought their influence to 
bear upon the social and moral condition of this 
erratic people, in order to rescue them from vice 
and the concomitant evils of their wandering life? 
Have our civil authorities made the efforts they 
ought to have done to restrain them by the gentle 
hand of mercy from evading the claims of the law. 
or to impose upon them their share of the duties 

v 2 


and responsibilities which fall upon all civilized com- 
munities ? Has the Press, which so often and elo- 
quently advocates the claims of heathendom on mis- 
sionary enterprise and Christian benevolence, ever 
wielded its powerful influence, as it should have 
done, on behalf of our gipsy claimants in our own 
or any other land, so that these proscribed ones 
should be, as they ought to be, recognised as mem- 
bers of the same brotherhood as ourselves ? 

Although a few spasmodic efforts have been made 
to reclaim the gipsies, some, indeed most of them, 
have failed, and have been given up in despair. 
The gipsies have therefore been neglected, ignored, 
and left to their wandering, isolated life to constitute 
an anomaly in every nation where they exist. Let us 
see that the sin of animosity against this strange race 
and neglect of their claims do not lie at our door. 

The claims of gipsies on our sympathy, and efforts 
to amend in every way their condition, are founded 
upon several specific things, to some of which we 
may briefly refer. 

1. Gipsies can claim relationship, both of a 
physical, mental, and spiritual nature, with all the 
rest of the great human family. 

Man is nowhere distinguished from his fellow-man 
by any great dissimilarity in physical constitution. 
In all the passions of the human soul, in natural 
sympathies, in mental capabilities, and in vicious 
propensities, there is no wide difference. 

In speaking of the unity of the human family, Mr. 
Ward remarks that " a consideration of the physical, 
mental, and moral peculiarities of different races, 
and of the religious nature by which they are all 


characterized, proves most conclusively that they 
are to be regarded merely as varieties of one 
species .... that all mankind are but one family, 
and descended from common parents ..... With the 
extension of Christianity, we may anticipate the 
period when, instead of race being, as now, opposed 
to race, there will be but one heart for the whole 
mass of humanity, and every pulse in each particular 
vessel shall beat in concert with it. The certainty 
of the common nature and origin of all mankind 
cannot fail of bringing us as individuals into closer 
intimacy one with another, and collectively with the 
common Father of all/' 

In reference to the higher nature of man, the 
same kind of similarity exists. Is it true that those 
of the noblest birth have within them that indestruct- 
ible spark of immortality we call the soul ? Let it 
not be deemed invidious when we assert that every 
uncouth, unlettered wayside gipsy has also en- 
shrined within his rough exterior an undying soul, 
whose destiny is eternal, a gem whose value is 
beyond all price, and which if lost, u the riches 
of India can never replace/' Having in a pre- 
vious chapter shown that gipsies possess, at least, 
ordinary capabilities of education, and that many 
instances are known in which they have not 
only displayed great aptitude for learning, but 
regretted the want of proper facilities for obtaining 
knowledge, we need advance nothing more on this 
point to prove the claims of this people on our 
sympathy and efforts, in order to induce them to 
become respectable and useful citizens, as well as 
devoted, intelligent, and consistent Christians. 


2. Another reason we would urge for philan- 
thropic effort amongst the gipsies is that their 
uncertain and erratic mode of life operates prejudi- 
cially against the effects and advantages of human- 
izing influences. 

It may be said that the gipsies are happy and con- 
tented with their wild freedom, and are willing to 
endure the privations incident to their own mode 
of existence. This is no doubt perfectly true, and 
no one could hardly expect it to be otherwise. They 
have been bred, born, and brought up in this way, 
and know nothing of the advantages of a higher and 
better way of life, and therefore cannot be expected 
either to aspire to them or to appreciate them as we 
have been taught to do. The idea gipsies entertain 
of our mode of life is that it imposes restraints 
and duties they do not care to submit to. Hence 
the difficulty in trying to induce them to give up 
their wandering habits. 

It does not, however, follow because they are 
satisfied in perpetuating their isolated life that no 
effort should be made to improve their condition. 
We may as well say, leave the Fejee islander to 
the tcorship of his god Udengei, who in his sub- 
terranean abode is deified by him ; trouble him not 
with another faith, do not give him a nobler object 
of adoration. 

Taking the lowest ground, even the physical 
miseries to which the great majority of gipsies are 
subject should constitute an impetus to every 
attempt made to ameliorate their social condition. 
Look at their fragile habitations, at the tattered 
canvas of many of their tents, pitched often under a 


leafless hedge in a damp lane ; their exposure to the 
inclemencies of every season, to the biting wind 
and the nipping frosts; how much they endure of 
physical suffering inflicted upon them by cold and 
hunger, which is often their lot during the months 
of winter. 

Although we claim no perfection for human or- 
ganizations, yet, as a people, we have as mild a 
form of government, as good civil arrangements 
and advantages, as much impartiality of justice, and 
certainly as good a political constitution for the 
enterprises of commerce as any other kingdom in 
the world. But in the habits and manners of the 
gipsy race have we not laxity and disorder, and a 
mode of life permitted which affords every facility 
for the violation of our laws, and every means of 
evading the punishment due to crime ? 

Although the poorest amongst us must contri- 
bute their quota towards the revenue of the country, 
and the government of our cities, towns, and vil- 
lages, these voluntary wanderers are exempt from 
many of those taxes which a domesticated state 
would necessarily impose upon them. 

Every man who enjoys as his birthright the free* 
dom of Englishmen, who has the protection of our 
laws, and who may share each national advantage 
if he will, should be made to bear his part of the 
general burden, and to support the government by 
which he is protected, In these particulars would 
not our rulers be justified in interfering, and in im- 
proving the state ^of society generally, by greater 
uniformity of social and domestic habits, and by an 
equalization of local and national resources ? 


The interference of government may be regarded 
by some as an uncalled for invasion upon the civil 
liberty of the gipsies; but while their freedom is 
unfortunately associated with so much ignorance, it 
would be far better by this interference to remove 
the causes which help to produce it, and to improve 
the condition of this people, than to allow them to 
continue in a course fraught with so many evils. 

3. Another motive for benevolent and Christian 
effort amongst these wandering tribes may be 
urged on the ground of the injurious influences 
exercised on others by some of the practices of this 
nomadic race. 

Some persons regard the gipsies as being so 
depraved and steeped in villainy as not to deserve a 
thought or an effort to redeem them. This we deny. 
And that they are not more morally diseased than 
thousands of our own people who lay claim to 
greater advantages is clearly evident from our 
daily and weekly police reports. 

Bad as the gipsies may really be, they have never 
been guilty of more atrocious crimes than those 
which are constantly being committed by men who 
are not gipsies. 

That some members of the gipsy race have pre- 
sented fearful instances of depravity is beyond all 
doubt. But they have been in most cases the 
inevitable consequences of ignorance, and too often 
the result of certain associations. It is true they 
have been dishonest in various ways, and that 
occasionally they have exhibited an amount of 
brutality towards each other of the most disgraceful 
character ; but even this has arisen, in the majority 


of cases, from circumstances rather than from any 
really inherent evil characteristics, , 

Without enumerating all those practices of the 
gipsy people which are morally wrong, and from 
which many evils may flow to the injury of others, 
we may again refer to the pernicious influence of 
fortune-telling ; a practice which in their wanderings 
they can carry on with less fear of detection than 
they could do if they were permanently located in 
a house or van in a town or village, where their 
means of subsistence would be readily known by 
Female gipsies, and particularly fortune-tellers, 
have many opportunities in their clandestine inter- 
views with servants and others of prompting them 
to acts of dishonesty, in order to meet the extor- 
tionate demands of these pretenders to prophetic 

It is not unreasonable, therefore, to suppose that 
numerically insignificant as they may comparatively 
be, the 18,000 if not 20,000 gipsies in Great Britain 
ulutie must introduce an element of great moral evil 
amidst the population of our country. 

But the reclamation and reformation of the gipsies 



and the question may be asked, what means are to be 
employed to accomplish this desirable object ? Our 
personal knowledge of the gipsy people compels us 
to say, which we do emphatically, that harsh measures 
will be of no avail ; they would tend rather to widen 
the breach between the Church, civilized life, and 


themselves, than to attract them towards either. It 
has been very sensibly observed that " there is not 
the least prospect of doing them good by forcing 
instruction upon them/' 

About the year 1748 the Empress Theresa at- 
tempted the improvement of the gipsies of Germany, 
by taking away, by force, all their children of a 
certain age, in order to educate and protect them; 
but such an unnatural and arbitrary mode of bene- 
volence defeated its own object ; and this is not to 
be wondered at; the souls of the free resist every 
effort of compulsion, whether the object be good or 
bad. Compulsory instruction, therefore, would do 
no good among the gipsies. 

It may be said, " What is the use of pointing 
out a disease unless you can suggest a remedy?" 
The peculiar circumstances of the gipsy race render 
it exceedingly difficult to know what means would be 
the most likely to meet every requirement of their 

So far as special laws have been passed respecting 
the gipsies both here and on the Continent, as we 
have previously shown, they have signally failed, 
in nearly every case, in accomplishing the objects 
for which they were enacted. 

The interference of law with the sanitary con- 
dition of this people, both as to their living and 
sleeping accommodation, would be justifiable, espe- 
cially where there are several members belonging 
to the same tent or vans. 

If the authority and duty of sanitary inspectors 
be duly performed and put into force with the gipsies 
in the same way as they are with us and our 


dwelling houses, we may imagine a great improve- 
ment would take place in their social life. 

It should, we think, be made a special part of the 
duty of such inspectors in every town and village 
in England where they are appointed, at once 
visit these wanderers whenever their tents and 
vans have been pitched within the limits of the 
districts over which such inspectors are appointed. 
If this were done in every place, and the law in 
this respect carried into effect, the gipsies would soon 
understand that it would be .to their interest at all 
times to comply with it, while it would not in any 
way interfere with their free and peculiar mode of 
life. We think that such improvement in the social 
condition of the gipsy people would very considerably 
help to lessen the antipathy existing against them. 

We will now refer to another importaut matter 
connected with the life and habits of this wandering 
race, which, although continually presenting itself to 
the public at large, may not have received the 
special attention either of local authorities or of our 
legislators. We refer to the 


Going from town to town and from one part of the 
country to another, gipsies could hardly evade pay- 
ment of the duty put upon all four wheeled and two 
wheeled carriages, but we are not aware that the 
following facts have ever received due consideration. 

A few of the better class of gipsies possess vans 
which have cost more money than the same number 
f some of the cottages and tenements occupied by 


our own people, not only in outlying districts, but 
even in thickly populated towns, and for which they 
have, in some way or other, to pay the tax imposed 
upon all dwelling houses, as well as poor and other 
rates levied upon them. 

We see no reason why the gipsies should not be 
expected to pay the same rates and taxes for their 
travelling habitations as we do for our stationary 
ones. Were the gipsies to do this they would be 
contributing their share, though a small one, towards 
our parochial and national expenses. An evasion of 
the payment of these taxes could easily be prevented 
by the collector of them visiting gipsy encampments, 
or an isolated family, as soon as he hears they are in 
his own locality, and demanding either the payment 
of such rates, or to see the receipt for the same, 
though given in another district. 

Although we never saw a gipsy pay a tax for a 
dog, and never heard of one doing so, such a thing 
may have taken place. Nevertheless, this is a matter 
worth consideration, as gipsies are fond of dogs, 
often keep a good many of them, and, it may be, 
for more purposes than one. 

The next and certainly not the least important 
matter we have to look into and examine is the 


However well the system of compulsory education 
may work among the poor aud others living in popu- 
lous towns and districts, such an attempt we think 
would be futile among the gipsies. It would be of 
no use for an agent of the School Board, armed as 


he might be with the authority of the law, to go 
amongst this people and to say in an overbearing 
peremptory manner, "Now then, I've come to tell 
yon you must send your children to school at once, 
and send them regularly too; because if you don't, 
we shall soon make you tell us the reason why, 
and punish you in the bargain for your neglect," 

The hold, free, and independent spirit of genuine 
gipsy men, and women too, would indignantly and 
defiantly resent such authority and compulsory mode 
of treatment, and rather than comply would have 
recourse to the most ingenious stratagems to evade 
the demands of the School Board, or any coercive 
measure that might be resorted to for this purpose. 
And if they could not do so by any other means, 
they would very unexpectedly a move off" and travel 
on to another district. 

What then is to be done with them in reference to 
their education ? Their general ignorance is a blot 
on our civilization ; and something must be done to 
wipe it out, so that we may not he a standing 
reproach in the eyes of other nations. A great 
student of the gipsy character says that, 


and whoever wishes really to benefit them must 
convince them that this is his intention, by patiently 
hearing with the unpleasant parts of their characters, 
and by a willingness to lessen their distresses as far 
as it is in his power. Let even a compulsory 
education agent adopt this plan, and he will find it 
will not be lost upon them. 


But we would suggest that both he and the teachers 
in our schools should use their influence in breaking 
down the prejudices of our own poople, who so often 
object to gipsy children mingling with their own; 
and also to do all they can to convince gipsy parents 
that their children shall have every proper attention, 
and the same interest taken in their success as may 
be shown and paid to others. 

To make the above plan work beneficially, the 
directors or committee of any school gipsy children 
have attended should instruct the master or mistress 
of such school to keep a register of the attendance 
and conduct of such children, and to supply their 
parents with a copy thereof, so that when they are 
compelled to remove to another part of the country, 
this copy would be an introduction and a recom- 
mendation to another school, and so, if all should not 
be gained that could be desired, some good would 
at least be effected. 

If the same plan should be adopted by our 
parochial clergy, whose schools should also be open 
to the children of these wayfarers, equal success 
would no doubt crown their efforts. 

We believe the migratory Laplanders who travel 
from place to place form themselves into clans or 
bodies composed of considerable numbers, and that 
belonging to each body is a teacher, who is also a 
religious instructor, and lives and travels with them, 
so that the education of these Lapland nomads may 
not be neglected. 

Although this plan would hardly be practicable 
in regard to English gipsies, on account of the small- 
ness of the numbers who travel together, yet if in 


every town and village committees of ladies and gen- 
tlemen could be appointed to note the immigration of 
gipsies into their several localities, and then in the 
spirit of Christian kindness talk to them, invite them 
to listen to useful reading, to short religious services 
where they are encamped, and to invite them to 
attend some place of worship, then, as surely as the 
mow melts by the warmth of the sun, bo will gipsies 
be affected by the power of generous actions. 

In reverting to the education of gipsy children, 
the question as to what subjects it should comprise 
is one of paramount importance. To give them an 
exclusively secular one would, we think, do more 
Ijann than good, especially while the home influences, 
examples, and surroundings peculiar to their life 
remain what they are. 

If moral and religious instruction be withheld 
from them, how are their evil habits, vicious pro- 
pensities, and other objectionable proclivities to be 
corrected and prevented ? and how are they to learn 
to he honest, upright in life, and virtuous in 
conduct ? If they are not taught the great funda- 
mental principles which really constitute the higher 
characteristics of all civilized and Christianized 
communities, what notions are they likely to form 
of the Divine Being? of their own nature and 
responsibilities ? of their obligations to the govern- 
ment under which they live, and their duty, not 
only to each other, but even that of humanity to the 
lower animals ? 

We hardly need say their notions would be very 
distorted, and the duties we have referred to would 
in a great measure be disregarded by them. While 


we must admit that a secular education has its uses, 
and is necessary, yet in the case of gipsy children we 
would enforce the necessity of combining with it 
moral and religious instruction ; otherwise, how are 
they ever to occupy a respectable status either in 
civil or religious society ? 


We have now arrived at a pleasing part of our 
duty in reference to this mysterious but interesting 
race — the gipsies. The cloud of ignorance, which 
for so many centuries has hung over them, is 
dispersing, and the expectant eye of the philan- 
thropist may see signs of twilight, cheering in- 
dicators of future brightness to this long neglected 

We shall now refer to a few instances in which 
good has been effected by individual efforts among 
the gipsies. 

About fifty years ago the late Rev. James Crabb 
made an effort to reclaim these wanderers and 
improve their condition, by frequent visits to their 
camping places in Hampshire, on which occasions he 
would enter into familiar conversation with them 
respecting the difficulties of their way of life. He 
would also offer to them, in a spirit of kindness, 
useful suggestions as to the best means of making 
their lives happier than they were, as well as by 
showing his sympathy towards them in a thoroughly 
practical way. He would read and expound to them 
the Scriptures in the most simple but effective 
manner. He opened a free school near his own resi- 


denoe, at which the children of those gipsies tenting 
near were invited to attend, free of all expense to 
them. He prevailed upon several adult gipsies to 
locate in houses, and to attend religious worship in 
a mission room erected by his own efforts, and for 
which he appointed a lay teacher and preacher at 
He own expense, particularly for the gipsies and the 
*ery poor of the district 

Three sisters of the name of Carter, who had led 
a gipsy Kfe for more than fifty years, were induced 
to give it up, to live in a house, and to attend the 
services in the mission room to which we have 
referred, and which they continued to do till within 
a short period of their death. Testimony is borne 
to their sincerity and consistent conduct, and also 
to the happy termination of the lives of all of them, 
A gipsy man known as u Blind Solomon," who in 
his earlier life had been one of the most wicked and 
desperate members of the gipsy tribes that ever was 
k*iown, became, by the same efforts, a changed man, 
lived a godly, consistent, and happy life, although 
^ e was poor, and had to earn a precarious living by 
^afeing baskets, which he con tinned to do as long as 
^ e possibly could. His resignation to his terrible 
a ^iction — deprivation of sight— had a wonderful 
^^>Bct upon others of his own tribe, who were corn- 
tilled to admit there was more in Christianity than 
^ l §y had ever believed. 


William Stanley, a gipsy, who at one time had been 
a soldier, became a convert to Christianity, and was 


appointed as a Scripture reader among his own people. 
After hearing a sermon in one of the chapels in 
Exeter from the words, " Let me die the death of 
the righteous, and let my last end be like his," he 
became changed both in heart and life, and so 
much did he deplore his inability to read, that he 
resolved, though late in life, to learn to do so. This 
he accomplished, and so qualified himself in this 
particular, as well as in others, for the duties of the 
work in which he was to be engaged. 

It is said that his discourses on Scripture subjects 
were characterized by sound judgment and clearness 
of perception . His style was unpretending, but there 
was much fervid eloquence in his simplicity. He 
was the means of inducing several gipsies to abandon 
their bad practices, and to attend places of worship, 
as well as to lead better lives. In the midst of his 
usefulness, however, he died, and by his death the 
gipsies lost a warm friend and advocate, and a good 
spiritual adviser. 


When we first knew this colony of wayfarers they 
were not only greater in numbers than now, but in 
a very benighted condition both morally and spiritu- 
ally. By the efforts of an agent of the London City 
Mission, and those of some energetic and benevolent 
ladies, which were specially directed to these gipsy 
outcasts, much good was done, not only by personal 
visits to their tents and vans, but by little social 
gatherings in a small room adjacent to this gipsy 
colony, where interesting readings were given, short 


discourses of a simple character delivered, and now 
^Hfcd then a free tea given to those who thought 
Proper to attend . On one occasion we gave a lecture 
the gipsy race, in a schoolroom engaged for the 
Purpose, and at which a large number of the gipsies 
*^«re present, all of whom were apparently surprised 
what could be said about themselves, As they 
listened attentively, we concluded they were inter- 
cepted in what they had heard. 

On the occasion of our visit to this gipsy camping 
^Tround in Notting Dale we noticed particularly the 
^*-;|>proach to one of the vane occupied by a gipsy 
^^^mily. Several sticks wero placed a little way apart 
^^Dnning two distinct rows, each about twenty feet 
^>ng ? the width between the rows being about four 
^^et; while other sticks bent in tent-stick fashion 
^^"eached from the top of one row to the other* Here and 
^^-herc climbing plants, amongst which was the honey- 
suckle, had been placed; these had run up the sticks 
• md covered the entire top, so that the approach to 
^this van was not only grateful to look upon, but a 
most efl&ctG&l screen from the heat of the sun. This 
'van belonged to one of the gipsies who had bwn 
induced to believe in the religious principles and 
precepts of Christianity, We have a special recol- 
lection of one of the Notting Dale gipsies, named 
Hearne, who was well known, not only in that im- 
mediate locality, but a considerable distance beyond, 
as a dmir-mentler, wlii* h employment lie secured 
by his well known stentorian voice calling our, 
" Chairs to mend, Chairs to mend." 

Although he had been during a great part of his 
life in a deplorably ignoraut and depraved state of 


morals and of mind, a change was effected in his 
life, and it is said he was a consistent member of 
the temperance society for thirty years; that he 
received readily any religious instruction others 
were inclined to give him, and that at the advanced 
age of nearly one hundred years he died a happy 
and peaceful death. 

Other Notting Dale gipsies, some of whom had 
grown old in crime and ignorance, became reformed 
characters, and attended religious services regularly, 
and with apparent benefit. 

Not long since a gipsy woman of the Stanley 
family, who had been a domestic servant, married a 
man of our own race and lived in Paddington, where 
both of them were members and communicants of the 
Church of England, and, we were told, exemplified 
by their lives the sincerity and genuineness of their 
professions. We knew another gipsy woman who 
was baptized by immersion, and became a member of 
a Baptist church in Dalston. 

Present at a lecture we gave on gipsies in a mission 
hall, Notting Hill, were three converted gipsies, all 
of whom, by the request of — Fordham, Esq., related 
in a simple but earnest manner, before a very large 
audience, the particular circumstances which induced 
them to give up their old wicked mode of obtaining 
a living, and to adopt other means more honest, 
upright and Christian. 


It was towards the decline of a beautiful spring 
day thai we happened to be in the locality just 
mentioned, where ^re met an aged gipsy man, 


belonging to the Hearnes, and living in a tent close 
by, As this man appeared to us to bo no "posh and 
posh gipsy," we felt considerable interest in. him, and 
will therefore give a brief personal description of him. 
He was about seventy years old, and must have 
been at one time a fine specimen of gipsy manhood. 
Even then he was in good health, tolerably active, 
and upright in posture* His eyes were dark, clear, 
and piercing ; his cheek bones somewhat prominent ; 
nose inclined to the aquiline type ; lips rather thin 
and compressed ; his hair was then grey, but he 
told us it had been as w black as a coal/ 1 He had 
allowed it to grow so long that when he combed 
it behind his ears it hung just over the collar of his 

His habiliments consisted of corduroy small clothes, 
red vest and neckerchief, blue stockings, and the 
jacket of the "right sort/* with the usual deep, 
capacious, and convenient pockets. He carried a 
stout walking stick with a ponderous knob, which 
he said he used, not only to help him along, but 
for protecting him against a canine or any other 

In conversation with this gipsy man we gathered 
some interesting particulars relating to his past 
history. It appears his life had been spent, as 
gipsy lives usually are, in wandering up and down 
the country, obtaining but a precarious living, 
sometimes honestly, and also otherwise ; and that 
he had been in entire ignorance of his Maker and 
of the Christian religion until within a very short 
time, when some one paid him a visit, and asked to 
he allowed to read the Scriptures to him. To this 


he consented, " because," as he said, " if there's no 
good in it, there can't be any harm." 

It appears that, simple as the means used on this 
occasion happened to be, they were thoroughly 
effectual in bringing about the result sought to be 
obtained. The entrance of God's word gave light 
to the old man's mind ; his mental eyes were opened ; 
his heart was touched and softened too ; he began to 
think, to reflect, to look back upon a wasted life; 
and forward to a never ending state of being ; all 
of which led on to a change of thought, feeling, 
desires, and aspirations; in one word, he became 
repentant, and as far as he could understand them, 
laid hold on the principles of Christianity. 

" Ah, sir," said this aged gipsy, 44 it's better and 
happier days with me and some of our folks now 
than it was when we lived in sin and neglect But 
you would hardly believe, sir, that we have a good 
many difficulties to contend with, and that some of 
our women have great temptations to carry on their 
old practices of fortune-telling, and promises of good 
payment if they will do so. But they won't do it, 
sir. It was only the other day that two servant 
girls came to the tent of one of our women, and 
wanted to have their fortunes told, and they had 
the money ready to give her." 

44 Did the gipsy tell the girls their fortune ? " we 

44 0, yes," replied the old man ; 44 but it was one 
they didn't quite expect ; it was this, 4 The blood of 
Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.' The girls left 
the tent, and never came again. Folks don't like 
fortunes of that sort you see, sir ; I mean those who 


consult fortune-tellers." The old man then bade us 
u good-evening and walked slowly onward to his 
tent. Much as some people might have questioned 
his sincerity and truthfulness, we had no reason 
to doubt either. He asked for no favour; so that 
bis motive in relating to us what lie had done was 
not to work upon our sympathy for any pecuniary 
or other benefit, but simply to make known the good 
that had been effected among his own people in that 
particular locality, The dawning light of gipsy re- 
formation is slowly increasing in power and bright- 
ness. Even in Epping Forest, which from time im- 
memorial (until within a short period) has been a 
camping place for the gipsies, a marvellous work 
has been carried on. Some time since a largo canvas 
tent waa erected and used by gipsies for religious 
worship, conducted, in many instances, by gipsy 
converts to the faith of Christ, Gipsy lay preachers 
may now be heard both indoors and out of doors, 
proclaiming to assembled multitudes u wonderful 
words of life " in various parts of London. 

flow miraculous and yet encouraging is the fact 
that men belonging to the scattered, outlawed gipsy 
race, hated, despised, neglected, maligned, and per- 
secuted in every land, should now be seen working 
for the moral and spiritual beuefit, not only of their 
own people, but for the welfare of others. 

The success which has attended Christian efforts 
among the gipsies shows that they are a fine material 
to work upon, and that it is the duty of the Church 
to send her members to visit the gipsies wherever 
they may be found, whether on our moors, in our 
lanea, in the recesses of our forests, in our glens, on 


oar mountain sides, or in the low localities of our 
large towns, in our pea-fields, our hop plantations, 
or even when travelling the high-roads or by-paths 
of our country, to invite them kindly and gently 
to receive instruction, and to attend to the higher 
moral and spiritual duties of life. 

May the time soon arrive when the Church every- 
where will fully recognize its duly to these wan- 
derers, and when all men shall believe in 

u The fatherhood of God, 
And the brotherhood of man." 

The narrative contained in the following verses is 
a true one, and is interesting because it shows on 
the one hand that wealth and high position need not 
constitute any barrier to the possession of Christian 
principles, nor to a desire to do good ; on the other 
hand, it shows that neither poverty nor a despised 
or low condition of life can prevent an earnest 
longing on the part of any human being to partici- 
pate in those moral and spiritual influences which 
more than anything elm elevate the mind, inspire 
the son), and dignify the character of man. 

In this simple but touching story we see the 
meekness, love, and humility of the cross blending 
with regal dignity, and we may fancy how eagerly 
and thankfully the gipsy woman would receive those 
words of consolation which fell from the lips of the 

Although the contrast between the two persons 
referred to was very great^ the one a monarch over 
millions of subjects, the other an outcast gipsy 
woman spurned by the world as a pest, both of 
them were children of the same universal and 
benevolent Father. • 

In England once a King did reign, 

A king of great renown ; 
Whose piety and kindness too 

Throughout this realm wore known. 


From this the splendours of his throne 
Did greater brightness borrow ; 

For this king's heart would always feel 
Far human woe and sorrow. 

The peasant in his humble homo, 

The way-worn and opprest, 
Were greeted by his friendly smile, 

And by his bounty blest. 

A simple story I'll relate, 

Adorn'd with truth and beauty, 

Which breathes of love's persuasive power, 
And tells to man his duty. 

To hunt the stag the monarch went 

One beautiful, fresh morn ; 
And far o'er Windsor forest wide 

Was heard the huntsman's horn. 

" Halloo ! halloo ! " the sportsmen cried ; 

The yelping hounds did follow, 
In hot pursuit, the frightened stag, 

Through many a brake and hollow. 

At length it reaoh'd the river's brink, 
Then crossed the flowing tide ; 

And from its foes a refuge found, 
Safe on the other side. 

To bo thus foil'd, to hunting men, 

Was sure a sad disaster ; 
Still on they wont, — but left behind 

Their noble royal master. 

The King rode gently to tho oaks, 
To wait his men returning ; 
m But knew not that so near tho spot 
A gipsy's fire was burning. 

A sound then reached the good King's ears ; 

Twas one of deep distress ; 
A plaintive human voice cried out, 

44 Oh ! God, my mother bless." 



On a green plot beneath an oak 

Was, on a pallet lying, 
Half sheltered by a tattered tent, 

A gipsy woman dying* 

A sun-burnt girl, close by the tree, 
Had knelt her down to pray ; 

Her earnest, piteous voice had led 
Tho King to rido that way. 

"Why do you weep, my child ? " ho asked, 

Just like a tender brother. 
With sobbing heart the girl replied, 

" O I sir, my dying mothor." 

Dismounting from his steed, he turned 

To whore the gipsy lay ; 
On him sho turn'd her languid eyes, 

But not a word could say. 

The silver cord was loos'd — the wheel 

Was at tho cistern broken ; 
Her feoblo form was fading fast, 

Death's sure, unerring token. 

Another gipsy girl appeared 

Beside the mothor kneeling, 
Whose pallid lips she kiss'd with all 

Love's pure and fervid fooling. 

! what a pleasing, touching sight, 
A noble King to seo, 

In converse with those gipsy girls, 
Beneath that old oak tree. 

Ho saw their tears that kind good King, 
And tried to sootho their sorrow ; 

For well ho know those gipsy girls 
Would orphans bo to-morrow. 

44 O ! sir," began the elder girl, 
" 'Twas very late last night 

1 left tho tent, reach'd yonder town 
Long ere the morning light. 


A minister I sought — and walked 

From one place to another ; 
But no one oonld I get to come 
To pray with my dear mother." 

The dying woman turn'd her eyes 

To where the trio stood ; 
Then cries of deep distress again 

Re-echoed through the wood. 

Dark clouds of grief now gather'd fast 

Around that fragile dwelling ; 
While pale-faced sickness, cold and stern, 

Its doleful tale was telling. 

But bright as morning beams which come 

From an unclouded sky, 
So peace came in those precious words, 

" A minister am I." 

Forgetting crowns and royal birth, 

And all which they inherit, 
The monarch took the gipsy's hand, 

Then spoke of sin's demerit. 

He told of Christ, of Heaven to come, 
Where all life's conflicts cease ; 

Where e'en a way-side gipsy may 
Find everlasting peace. 

Hope's calm bright sunshine fill'd her heart, 

And joy divine was given ; 
She smil'd, then died, and angels bore 

Her ransom'd soul to heaven. 

The day was waning fast — and night 

Was creeping on apace ; 
When in the wood were horsemen seen 

Returning from the chase. 

On, on they rode, at length they reached 

That scone of deep affliction ; 
They saw their King, and heard him too 

In silent admiration. 


They saw him bless those gipsy girls ; 

With gold their wants supply ; 
And listen'd, as he bade them look 

To Him who lives on high. 

While down his own right royal face 

The briny tears were stealing ; 
Within his noble, generous heart, 

Was love's pure earnest feeling. 

And so it proved — for in that hour 

Of Nature's greatest need, 
Those weeping girls found in the King 

A kind true friend indeed. 

The King then pointed to the corpse, 

Now freed from earthly labour ; 
Ask'd of Lord L. f " Who thinkest thou 

Was that poor woman's neighbour ? " 

True neighbours they whose acts of love 

Peace to the sorrowing bring ; 
Then, gentle reader, ne'er forget 

The Gipsies and the King. 

Vernon S. Morwood. 



Tune—" Sweet Home." 

Ye Christians of England, whoso sympathies glow 
For a world wrapt in darkness, and shrouded in woo ; 

Whoso heralds of mercy, a band true and bravo, 
Go forth the dark pagan and savage to save. 


Hear, hear, hear tho prayer 
Of tho poor wandering Gipsy, the child of despair. 

O ! listen awhile to the sorrows which pour 

From tho lano, and tho hedge, and tho bleak desert moor ; 
Regard the strong claims ; hear tho voice of the prayer 

Of tho poor wandering Gipsy, the child of despair. 

Hear, hear, &c. 

Ye Christians of England, who willingly raise 

Your houses of mercy, and altars of praise ; 
Wo ask not for gold, something greater wo cravo, 

'Tis tho boon of instruction, the Gipsies to save. 

Hear, hoar, &c. 

For years wo have travers'd tho faco of tho earth, 
And thousands have gone to the regions of death 

Unhoeded, despis'd, and abandon'd by all : 
Great God I wilt not Thou hear tho poor Gipsies' call ? 

Hear, hear, &c. 

The bright hours of morcy will soon pass away ; 

0, Christians, be activo while yet it is day ; 
Withhold not the boon of Salvation that's given, 

Then Gipsies may join in tho chorus of Heaven. 

Hear, hear, &c. 

Vernon S. MoRwoon. 



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